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Thursday, June 10

Sixth annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge matchups set

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[JUNE 10, 2004]  PARK RIDGE -- The sixth annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge matchups have been determined, with the event once again featuring top college basketball programs playing for conference supremacy and the Commissioner's Cup.

ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to televise the nine-game Big Ten-ACC Challenge on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 29 through Dec. 1, from nine college campuses. It will mark the third consecutive year that every game will be televised nationally in a three-day schedule. ESPN Regional televised one game in each of the first three years.

Since 2000, the Big Ten and ACC have combined to make 10 Final Four appearances, capturing three of the last five NCAA championships. In addition, the two conferences rank either first or second in all-time NCAA Tournament bids, victories and Final Four appearances.

2004 Big Ten-ACC Challenge schedule

(All times Eastern)

Monday, Nov. 29

  • 7 p.m. -- Purdue at North Carolina State, ESPN2

Tuesday, Nov. 30

  • 7 p.m. -- Michigan at Georgia Tech, ESPN
  • 7:30 p.m. -- Florida State at Minnesota, ESPN2
  • 9 p.m. -- Michigan State at Duke, ESPN
  • 9:30 p.m. -- Maryland at Wisconsin, ESPN2

Wednesday, Dec. 1

  • 7 p.m. -- Wake Forest at Illinois, ESPN
  • 7:30 p.m. -- Ohio State at Clemson, ESPN2
  • 9 p.m. -- North Carolina at Indiana, ESPN
  • 9:30 p.m. -- Virginia at Northwestern, ESPN2

Challenge highlights

Half the Final Four in action against Michigan teams: Georgia Tech and Duke, participants in last year's NCAA Final Four, will compete in back-to-back telecasts Tuesday, Nov. 30, on ESPN. Georgia Tech will host 2004 NIT champion Michigan, and Duke will host Michigan State.

Top programs in competition: Eight of the top 25 teams in last year's final ESPN-USA Today rankings will compete in the Challenge. They are No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Georgia Tech, No. 11 Illinois, No. 15 Wake Forest, No. 16 Wisconsin, No. 20 North Carolina State, No. 22 North Carolina and No. 24 Maryland.

Perennial powers meet: North Carolina and Indiana, college basketball programs rich in tradition, will meet in Bloomington, Ind., on ESPN Dec. 1 at 9 p.m. The Hoosiers rank third all-time with five national titles, while the Tar Heels, with three, are tied for fourth with Duke.

Rematches, rematches: This year's Challenge will feature two rematches from 2003 with both Big Ten programs looking for redemption for last season's losses. Tuesday, Nov. 30, Michigan State will visit Duke for a 9 p.m. game on ESPN, and Maryland will visit Wisconsin for a 9:30 p.m. game on ESPN2.

ACC looks for six in a row: By capturing seven of the nine games last year, the ACC won its fifth consecutive Commissioner's Cup.

Big Ten highlights

100th year: The Big Ten will celebrate its 100th season of men's basketball during the 2004-05 campaign. The first round of conference play was during the 1905-06 academic year, with Minnesota, 6-1, edging Wisconsin, 6-2, for the title.

 

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Returning to a court near you: The 2004 all-Big Ten teams were dominated by underclassmen, as 12 of the 16 selections, or 75 percent, had a chance to return to their teams next season. So far only two of those underclassmen have left early. Returnees from the first and second team include Illinois juniors Dee Brown and Deron Williams, Indiana junior Bracey Wright, Michigan State senior Chris Hill and junior Paul Davis, and Wisconsin senior Mike Wilkinson.

Playing smart basketball: The Big Ten established an all-time high as 28 men's basketball student-athletes collected academic all-conference accolades last season, an increase of seven over the previous best. Michigan State's Chris Hill also earned first team academic all-America honors after registering third team accolades as a sophomore. The MSU standout was the first Big Ten men's basketball player to be honored in back-to-back seasons since Penn State's John Amaechi accomplished the feat in 1994 and 1995.

The nation's best fans: The Big Ten has led the nation in attendance in each of the last 27 years, according to figures through the 2002-03 campaign. Last season, the conference surpassed the 2 million total for all games for the 12th straight season, as 2,045,574 patrons passed through the turnstiles in 161 games, for an average of 12,705 fans per contest, an increase of more than 300 per outing over last season. The count was 12,367 in 2002-03. In addition to the fans' efforts at home games, they also flocked to neutral-site contests. Michigan State hosted Kentucky on Dec. 13, 2003, in Detroit's Ford Field and welcomed 78,129 fans to the event, establishing the world record for single-game basketball attendance.

NCAA Tournament success: Since the inception of the NCAA Tournament in 1939, the Big Ten has recorded the most appearances of any conference in the Big Dance, with 169, and has the second-most NCAA Tournament victories at 273; the ACC has 151 appearances and 297 victories. The Big Ten is tied with the ACC at 37 for the most Final Four appearances and is tied for the second-most national titles, 10, in college basketball history. The only other conference to reach double figures in national championships is the Pac-10, with 15 titles.

Seven straight Sweet Sixteens: With Illinois advancing to the third round of the 2004 NCAA championship, the Big Ten has sent at least one team to the regional semifinals in seven consecutive seasons and 17 times in the 20 years since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. With 17 teams reaching the third round of the NCAA championships, the Big Ten ranks second among all leagues over the last seven years. The Big East leads the way with 18 Sweet Sixteen squads since 1998, followed by the ACC with 16, the Big 12 with 14, SEC with 1414 and Pac-10 with 13. Only four conferences maintain a current streak of seven or more consecutive years in the round of 16: the Big Ten, ACC, Big East and SEC.

Seven-year plan: Over the last seven NCAA championships, Big Ten teams lead all conferences in victories and games played, while rating second in winning percentage. The Big Ten has taken part in 99 games and boasts 64 victories over that time span, while the ACC is tied for the most NCAA Tournament wins and is knotted with the Big East in second place with 93 contests. The Big Ten's winning percentage of .647 ranks second only to the ACC's .688. With 36 tourney berths, the Big Ten is tied for third among all conferences, trailing only the SEC, which has 41 appearances, and the Big 12, with 37.

[News release from Scott Chipman,
associate director of communications,
Big Ten Conference]

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