The matchups for the 2017 Big Ten/ACC Challenge were released today, with the Virginia Cavaliers hosting the Badgers in the 19th edition of the early season competition held between the two top-tier conferences. While the Challenge will be played in late November, the dates, network assignments and tip-off times have not been released at the time of this writing.
This isn’t the first occurrence of the two conference powerhouses facing off in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, with the Badgers topping the Cavaliers in the 2013 Challenge. Quality defense has been the traditional calling card of both schools, as the Badgers took that game by a score of 48-38 as Virginia shot just 22% from the field.
Though neither team will likely be ranked in the top 25 to start the season, both programs have a long history of success in the sport. Wisconsin was on the losing end of a wild finish in the Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row last season, though they lost their core four of seniors to graduation. How quickly the Badgers develop around center Ethan Happ and point guard D’Mitrik Trice will determine the success of the young squad this season.
Virginia, led by one of the best coaches in college basketball in Tony Bennett, were the 5th seed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament last year before getting steamrolled by a Florida team in the Round of 32 that broke Wisconsin’s hearts a game later. That was regarded as an off year for the Cavaliers however, as they had been either a #1 or #2 seed in the previous three NCAA Tournaments. Unfortunately for Virginia, they will need to find a replacement for star guard London Perrantes, who was the heart and soul of their team last year.
With both teams needing to prove themselves early in the year, this matchup promises to be a hard-fought, defense-heavy contest. Wisconsin and Virginia will both need marquee wins in order to better their standing with the selection committee, and this early-season game will provide that opportunity.