Hard to believe that the Big Ten/ACC Challenge is heading into it's 18th season. A great display of what is usually two of the (if not THE) best conferences in college basketball. A chance for fan bases to have a guaranteed game against a P5 opponent and a chance to get to know the landscape of the ACC for Big Ten fans. Road trips to different venues and campuses for most of the Big Ten...except for Minnesota Golden Gopher fans.
After it was announced that the Gophers are facing Florida State in next year's Big Ten/ACC Challenge, I decided to take a look at just how many times these two teams have faced each other and found that after next year's game these two teams will have faced each other a third of the time. 6 matchups between these two, now familiar, opponents in 18 years.
Without fully knowing how the Big Ten / ACC schedulers do their maths to come up with interesting and competitive matchups ever year, it is pretty clear that they to bucket teams expected to be relatively competitive. North Carolina and Michigan State have played 5 times over the years, because they are typically atop their respective conferences. But the matchup of Seminoles vs. Gophers is the most played series. Which got me thinking...how often do other Big Ten teams face the same ACC opponent?
Turns out, not only do we have the most common opponent but we also get a unique opponent less than 50% of the time. Northwestern is close to matching the lack of creativity and uniqueness to this scheduling with 9 unique opponents in 18 games but we are sub .500 with just 8. We used to face Virginia a lot as well.
What's my point? I don't really know and I'm not exactly requesting that the Gophers should get a matchup with Duke or North Carolina, as they haven't earned the right to be playing the elite of the ACC. But how about NC State? Why not Boston College? Pitt? How about mixing it up a little bit, huh? Because I don't need to see Florida State again. And I'm willing to bet that Seminole fans are not all that excited about seeing the Gophers...again.
With all of that said, I did attend the game in Tallahassee back in 2007. That was a fun trip. But I won't be going back.
Since I have your attention, here is a very brief look ahead at the matchup.
The Gopher roster? Who knows who will be on the team at that point? Right? Likely you'll have some solid guard play, an emerging Amir Coffey, a beast at forward and giant questions at center.
Florida State? They return their top 3 scorers who were two freshmen and a sophomore. They look to improve upon their 20-win NIT season.
Other Interesting Big Ten/ACC Challenge notes
- Indiana for the past 9 seasons has had a different opponent
- Purdue and Minnesota currently have won 7 and 5 games in a row (respectively) in this series.
- Minnesota's last loss was 2010 to Virginia at home.
- Gophers lead Florida State 3-2 in the series (plus a 2014 win over FSU in the NIT)