Predicting Northwestern's 2011 Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup


Big Ten Senior Associate Commissioner Mark Rudner tweeted today that the Big Ten / ACC Challenge matchup announcements are being delayed:

Big Ten ACC MBB challenge schedule changing, won't be ready to go until early next week. Stay tuned!

This after an earlier tweet announcing that the schedule would be released today-ish:

for Big Ten ACC MBB Challenge announcement ~May 10, give or take. Could
be as many as 7 new matchups. Next Sunday's NBA deadline looms.

And thus the gauntlet for predicting Northwestern's next ACC challenger was thrown down. The Wildcats have played five different ACC teams in 12 seasons of participation in the Challenge, and are 5-7 overall, winning their last three in a row.

Northwestern's full Challenge resume, their three most likely draws for 2011, one unlikely draw and two most favorable draws after the jump.

Here's the full history of Northwestern's participation in the Challenge:

  • Lost to Florida State (60-46) at home in 1999.
  • Lost to Clemson (57-44) at Clemson in 2000.
  • Defeated Florida State (57-50) at home in 2001.
  • Lost to NC State (74-49) at NC State in 2002.
  • Lost to Florida State (71-53) at Florida State in 2003.
  • Lost to Virginia (48-44) at home in 2004.
  • Lost to Virginia (72-57) at Virginia in 2005.
  • Defeated Miami (61-59) at home in 2006.
  • Lost to Virginia (94-52) at Virginia in 2007.
  • Defeated Florida State (73-59) at home in 2008.
  • Defeated NC State (65-53) at NC State in 2009.
  • Defeated Georgia Tech (91-71) at home in 2010.

These predictions are based on the fact that Northwestern will very
likely be traveling for the 2011 challenge, based on the home/away
pattern of the Challenge. This also assumes, as patterns for all the
seasons have shown, that the Big Ten and ACC tend to pair similarly
matched teams. Assume that we won't be seeing a Northwestern vs. Duke or
a Northwestern vs. North Carolina.

Most likely draws:

  • NC State - In a repeat of Northwestern's 2005 and 2007 trips to
    Virginia, NC State, an improving team under new head coach for
    2011-2012, Mark Gottfried, could welcome the Wildcats again after playing host in 2009.
  • Maryland - This would be a first-time matchup for the challenge, and a good one. Mark Turgeon brings a lot to this new team and should shake things up in the ACC. Maryland and Northwestern both finished eighth (technically the Terps tied for 7th) in their respective conferences last season.
  • Miami - The U didn't participate in last year's challenge (the
    worst ACC team always previously ended up sitting out because there were
    12 ACC and only 11 Big Ten teams), but will be more competitive this
    season under yet another new ACC coach - Jim Larranaga.
    The Hurricanes finished ninth in the ACC last season and with the new
    12-team Big Ten, every ACC team and every Big Ten team should be

Unlikely draw:

  • Clemson - The Tigers have played two Challenge home games in row,
    and are therefore very unlikely to play host to Northwestern, who are in
    need of a road opponent in the Challenge.

Most favorable draws:

  • Boston College - Northwestern tore Boston College apart in the second round of the 2011 NIT playoffs with their second best offensive outing of the season. Sure, NU's top scorer in that game, Juice Thompson, is gone, but so is Joe Trapani, BC's highest scorer in that game. This isn't a likely matchup however, as BC played their 2010 Challenge game at home.
  • Georgia Tech - This game could happen. The Yellow Jackets came to
    Evanston for last season's Challenge to lose 91-71, and finished the
    season 13-18. Iman Shumpert, the team's leading scorer has decided to remain in the NBA draft and won't be returning for next season.

When the official schedule gets released early next week - barring another pushback - look here for the full Northwestern breakdown.


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  • Uh, I think a little research might inform you that Georgia Tech's teams, when not called the Rambling Wreck, are generally known as the "Yellow Jackets" and not the "Hornets". Did you get stung?

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