The Big Ten-ACC Challenge (or ACC–Big Ten Challenge as it is called in alternating years) is an in-season NCAA men's college basketball series established in 1999 that matches up teams from the Big Ten Conference (B1G) and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). ESPN was a key part of the creation of the challenge, and holds the broadcast rights to all the games. The Big Ten–ACC Challenge occurs early in the non-conference season, typically around late November/early December. Each game is hosted by one of the participating schools, with teams typically alternating home and away status in each successive year.
The ACC leads 12–6–3 in the series and 133–106 in games. The ACC won the first 10 consecutive challenges, while the Big Ten won five of the next seven along with two ties. The most recent challenge was won by the Big Ten. In the 20 years of the event, ten of the challenges have been decided by a single game.
Nine games were scheduled for each of the first six challenges, leaving two teams from the 11-team Big Ten without an opponent. With the expansion of the ACC to 12 teams with the addition of Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech, the field was expanded to 11 games in 2006, meaning that one ACC team would not play. With Nebraska joining the Big Ten in 2011, the challenge expanded to 12 games and every member from both conferences participated. In 2013, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame joined the ACC, leaving three ACC teams excluded from the competition. In 2014, Maryland withdrew from the ACC and joined the Big Ten along with Rutgers, giving that conference 14 teams, and Louisville joined the ACC replacing Maryland and maintaining the conference's 15-team membership. The conference realignments have thus led to the challenge being expanded to 14 games.
When the challenge was expanded to 12 games, and later 14 games, the changes resulted in the possibility that the challenge could end in a tie. In the event of a tie, the previous year's winner retains the Commissioner's Cup. This scenario occurred in 2012 and 2013, with the Big Ten retaining the Cup based on its 8–4 win in 2011; the ACC retained the Cup in 2018 based on its 11–3 win in 2017.Typically, match-ups are selected for their expected interest in the game meaning higher profile teams are chosen to play each other to enhance television ratings for ESPN.
In 2007, the ACC–Big Ten Women's Challenge was founded.
The popularity of this series has led other conferences to form similar partnerships in which their members go head-to-head against each other. Examples are the Big 12/SEC Challenge and Mountain West–Missouri Valley Challenge and the now-defunct SEC–Big East Challenge and Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. The ACC–Big Ten Challenge itself followed another popular interconference challenge series involving the ACC, the ACC–Big East Challenge which took place in the 1980s and 1990s at the height of the Big East Conference.
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