Cards Get Sparty on the Road in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville men’s basketball team will play at Michigan Statein the 2015 Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Dec. 2 in East Lansing, Mich.

It is a rematch of the NCAA East Regional championship game in Syracuse, N.Y. as the Spartans won 76-70 in overtime to advance to the Final Four.  Wayne Blackshear scored 28 points to lead the Cardinals, who had recovered from a six-point deficit in the closing four minutes to force the overtime. Travis Trice led Michigan State with 17 points.

The 14-game slate of inter-conference matchups to be played over a three-day period was announced on Wednesday, with the games to be televised on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. All 14 games will also be available via WatchESPN. Times and television will be announced in August.

Louisville has a 5-4 all-time series advantage with the two teams meeting in NCAA regional competition on four occasions. The Cardinals prevailed over the Michigan State on their path to the Final Four in 1959 and 2012, and fell to the Spartans as they reached the Final Four in 2009 and 2015. Louisville beat three Big Ten foes last season in Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio State.

Louisville advanced to its 14th NCAA Elite Eight in 2015 and its third in the last four years. Louisville and Michigan State are the only two schools in the nation to reach the last four NCAA Sweet 16s. The Cardinals (27-9 in 2014-15) are one of four Division I schools in the nation that have won 20 or more games in each of the past 13 seasons. Louisville has won 123 games over the past four seasons, the second-most in the nation during that stretch.

Nine programs from the two leagues are ranked in an early preseason top 25 poll, including four of the top seven: No. 2 North Carolina, No. 4 Maryland, No. 5 Virginia, No. 7 Duke, No. 12 Michigan State, No. 13 Notre Dame, No. 14 Indiana, No. 21 Louisville and No. 25 Wisconsin. Three of the Challenge games will include matchups of teams in the early rankings: No. 4 Maryland at No. 2 North Carolina, No. 14 Indiana at No. 7 Duke, and No. 21 Louisville at No. 12 Michigan State.

Thirteen teams from the two leagues played in the 2015 NCAA Championship including Duke, Louisville, NC State, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia from the ACC; and Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin from the Big Ten.

The Big Ten captured the Commissioner’s Cup last season, winning eight of the 14 matchups. The two conferences split the previous two events, winning six Challenge games each in 2012 and 2013. The ACC won the first 10 Challenges (1999-2008) while the Big Ten won the next three (2009-2011). In the event of a tie, the Commissioner’s Cup remains with the conference that won the previous year.

2015 Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Mon, Nov 30
Clemson at Minnesota
Wake Forest at Rutgers

Tue, Dec 1
Maryland at North Carolina
Virginia at Ohio State
Michigan at NC State
Purdue at Pittsburgh
Northwestern at Virginia Tech
Miami (Fla.) at Nebraska

Wed, Dec 2
Indiana at Duke
Louisville at Michigan State
Notre Dame at Illinois
Wisconsin at Syracuse
Florida State at Iowa