Monday, May 14, 2012

Michigan Gets North Carolina State In The Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Photo Credit: CBSSports
In one of the more anticipated announcements of the off-season for college basketball fans, the Big Ten and ACC announced the match-ups of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.  This pits the two conferences against one another in a twelve game challenge (one for each team) in an attempt to determine which conference is superior.  Obviously, it's not an exact science, but the two conferences usually do a good job at creating some exciting match-ups for the teams, conferences, and the entire nation.

Of the 12 games, three really shine above the rest.  Not to say the remaining nine games won't be exciting, but the top three games will certainly be more hyped and likely have more season ramifications for the teams and conferences.  One of the primary reasons that the Big Ten conference was considered the nation's best basketball conference last season was because of the conference's impressive performance in this challenge.  However, even though the Big Ten went 8-4 last year to beat the ACC, it wasn't the record that stood out., it was Ohio State's win over Duke by nearly 20 points that cemented the conference for the remainder of the season.  Basically, winning the big games can do wonders for the conference's image nationwide and with the selection committee.

As I described earlier, there are three "big" games in this year's Big Ten/ACC Challenge:
  • #13 North Carolina at #1 Indiana
  • #6 North Carolina State at #5 Michigan
  • #8 Ohio State at #15 Duke
Certainly, there are other teams in the conference with exciting match-ups, such as Minnesota and Wisconsin, but it's pretty obvious that these three games rise above the rest, especially because these are the only ranked match-ups as of now.  Regardless, I'm sure everybody noticed that Michigan is included as one of the best three match-ups.  This should be pretty exciting for fans.  Michigan has never hosted a ranked team in the ACC Challenge and Michigan hasn't hosted a non-conference opponent of this caliber since January of 2011.

Along with the talent that North Carolina State will be bringing to Ann Arbor, it's pretty obvious that this will probably be Michigan's most hyped non-conference game in a VERY, VERY, long time.  Michigan has hosted teams like Duke, Kansas, and Syracuse in Ann Arbor over the past few seasons, but it was more of a potential upset game than a real match-up.  This will be the first time that Michigan is not only considered to be a contender against a team like this in a long time, but may actually be favored.

Michigan has faced some great teams at home over the last few seasons, primarily in Big Ten play, but there's a big difference in the excitement level depending on the status of the two teams.  Hosting a team like North Carolina State at home is pretty unique, but the chance of being favored against a team like NC State is something Wolverine fans are going to have to get used to in the future.  Personally, I would have rather played North Carolina or Duke, simply because it would have been a flashy match-up, but fans should be thrilled with this game being in Ann Arbor.

Michigan has faced North Carolina State twice before in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.  One of them was in Raleigh and the other was in Ann Arbor.  The teams split the two match-ups, with each team winning their home game.  This does little to predict the impending match-up of the two teams, but it does show a little history between the teams and hopefully a sign of a Michigan victory.  I'm very excited for this game and I'm just happy college basketball has the Big Ten/ACC Challenge to create great games like this that otherwise would probably not happen.

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