Syracuse Basketball: Ranking the 2021 ACC-Big Ten Challenge games

The annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge is an event that I really enjoy, even if Syracuse basketball has an under .500 record so far in it.

The match-ups for the 2021 version of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge were recently unveiled, and there are as usual a bunch of really excellent encounters on the docket between these two high-quality leagues.

The Orange will host Indiana, and I think that’s a decent pairing. However, there are numerous other games that I believe are even better, and we rank them in order here. As always, please let us know your thoughts!

Syracuse basketball against Indiana falls toward the middle of the pack.

Duke at Ohio State
This one has all kinds of fun storylines. The Blue Devils didn’t make the Big Dance a season ago, and legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski is retiring after the upcoming campaign.

The Buckeyes were one of the nation’s best a term ago, although they got bounced early on in the NCAA Tournament. Both Ohio State and Duke could be pre-season top-10 teams for the 2021-22 stanza.

Florida State at Purdue
The Seminoles and the Boilermakers are expected to make serious runs at their conference crowns in 2021-22. FSU is perhaps the ACC’s premier squad of the past few seasons, while some prognosticators view Purdue as a pre-season top-five group.

Michigan at North Carolina
The Wolverines reached the 2021 Elite Eight and will be in the upper tier of the Big Ten Conference yet again this coming year. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, have a new head coach in Hubert Davis, who is replacing the legendary Roy Williams, who has retired after winning three national titles in Chapel Hill.

Virginia Tech at Maryland
The Hokies had a solid 2020-21 term and figure to be in the top six or so of the Atlantic Coast Conference this coming campaign. The Terrapins will likely be a pre-season top-10 to top-15 squad.

Louisville at Michigan State
The Cardinals and the Spartans are powerful brands in their respective leagues. Louisville missed the Big Dance a season ago, while the Spartans barely got in. This is a fun match-up, though.

Iowa at Virginia
The Hawkeyes were stacked in 2020-21, but they’ve lost some big-time players due to graduation and the transfer portal. The Cavaliers, the 2019 NCAA champions, are always in the thick of the ACC race.

Notre Dame at Illinois
Illinois was a No. 1 seed in the 2021 March Madness but bowed out in the round of 32. Notre Dame was sub-par last season, but the Fighting Irish will be much improved in 2021-22.

Indiana at Syracuse
The Hoosiers were not good in 2020-21, while the Orange made a surprise run to the Sweet 16 this past spring. I think that the ‘Cuse will be an NCAA Tournament team again this season. Let’s see how Indiana fares under new head coach Mike Woodson, a former head coach in the NBA.

Wisconsin at Georgia Tech
This is an under-rated duel. The Badgers and the Yellow Jackets both are solid groups.

Clemson at Rutgers
The Scarlet Knights beat the ‘Cuse a season ago. Now they host the Tigers.

Minnesota at Pittsburgh
Each of these crews struggled in 2020-21. I like them both to rebound a bit this coming year.

Nebraska at N.C. State
Nebraska was abysmal in 2020-21. The Wolfpack was average.

Miami at Penn State
Both Miami and Penn State were under .500 last season. The Hurricanes had a talented roster stung by injuries.

Northwestern at Wake Forest
These two teams mightily struggled in 2020-21.

See below for the full schedule of contests, per an announcement from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Monday, Nov. 29
Iowa at Virginia
Notre Dame at Illinois

Tuesday, Nov. 30
Clemson at Rutgers
Duke at Ohio State
Florida State at Purdue
Minnesota at Pittsburgh
Indiana at Syracuse
Northwestern at Wake Forest

Wednesday, Dec. 1
Wisconsin at Georgia Tech
Louisville at Michigan State
Miami at Penn State
Michigan at North Carolina
Nebraska at N.C. State
Virginia Tech at Maryland