Sports department for the student run radio station 90.3 WRST at UW-Oshkosh
The beginning of the college basketball season often times offers a taste of what’s to come as March arrives. Whether this is the Preseason NIT, Maui Invitational, Cancun Challenge, or the Battle 4 Atlantis this list goes on and on. It allows for programs and aspiring bracket busters to showcase their talent nationally. These early season tournaments were not always the case. In 1999 two conferences began an annual challenge to see which respective conference reigned supreme between the ACC and the Big 10.
It’s a challenge that has been dominated mostly by the ACC, but has finally swung towards the Big 10’s advantage in recent years. It’s something that continually offers intense and thrilling match-ups between non-conference foes. While its first 10 years might not necessarily constitute as a challenge (the ACC won the first decade), the Big 10 has been able to grab momentum in the previous 4. Last year’s challenge resulted in an even 6-6 draw, which allowed the Commissioner’s Cup to stand put with the Big 10.
The challenge appeals to people because it allows for each conference’s teams to go out on the hardwood and perform for their respective conference. There’s no arguing this and that who we think is better, or who would be better; it’s just let the play do the talking. When you have two power conferences that have had as much success in recent years as these two, there will always be competitive match-ups even in the lower tier opponents. Even if you don’t have rooting interests for either conference, there are still match-ups to snag your interests every year.
Of course match-ups like UNC-Michigan State and Duke-Michigan will grab the national attention, but did anyone see Georgia Tech rally and defeat Illinois last night? It was an electric atmosphere down in Atlanta as they secured another victory for the ACC. It just goes to show you that this competition is good for all schools participating and even college basketball itself. Just by the success of this challenge, other conferences have attempted to do the same including the Big 12-SEC Challenge and in years past the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series and the SEC-Big East Challenge.
Even the coaches can appreciate the challenge. In a recent interview, Wisconsin head coach, Bo Ryan, commented: “The one good thing is you know every year either you’ve got a home or away game from a power conference, from a very good conference, and you know it’s going to be a very good team. So that always helps in scheduling.” He also mentions the financial benefits all programs receive when participating in the Big 10-ACC Challenge: “And also the promotion of the games. It started before we had the Big Ten Network. So the contract that we have has been lucrative, helps pay a lot of bills. A lot of exposure for both conferences. So it’s been pretty good.”
ACC 4-2 – Remaining Games:
Maryland @ #5 Ohio State
#8 Wisconsin @ Virginia
Northwestern @ NC State
North Carolina @ #1 Michigan State
Boston College @ Purdue
Miami @ Nebraska
As the challenge wraps up today, the Big 10 looks to get back on track this evening currently trailing the ACC 4-2. The biggest matchups to look at lie in Charlottesville for the Wisconsin-Virginia contest and in East Lansing between Michigan State-UNC. The ACC needs two wins to guarantee a tie and three to secure the Commissioners Cup and the schedule favors the Big 10. If the ACC is able to pull out one of these two games, there is a very good chance they reclaim the cup. I think NC State will take care of Northwestern, but they fate of the ACC will lie with an up-and-down UNC team, or a Virginia team that lacks a quality victory on the young season.
With that being said, I still think the Big 10 comes out on top with the Badgers and Spartans. It will inch the Big 10 closer, but don’t be surprised to see another 6-6 draw or even to see the ACC to get back on track in this year’s Big10-ACC Challenge.
Tony Bettack, Sports Director, 90.3 WRST-FM Oshkosh (@tbettack10)
Also, check out this video ESPN posted asking players to spell Duke coach, Mike Krzyzewski’s last name: