ROSEMONT, Ill. — Two of the nation’s premier women’s basketball conferences will once again square off for hardwood bragging rights, as the matchups for the 14th Big Ten/ACC Women’s Basketball Challenge were announced Tuesday. The annual challenge, which was not played in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, returns this fall with 14 high-quality matchups, including a rematch of last year’s thrilling NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game between Indiana and NC State (won by the Hoosiers, 73-70, to send them to their first Elite Eight since 1983).
The 2021 Challenge will take place over two days in early December, beginning Wednesday, Dec. 1, with Big Ten schools Minnesota, Purdue and Wisconsin playing host to ACC counterparts that evening, while Nebraska, Ohio State and Rutgers venture on the road. The following night (Thursday, Dec. 2), Illinois, Indiana, Maryland and Michigan State will serve as the Big Ten host schools, while Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern and Penn State will play at ACC sites.
The last time the Challenge was played in 2019, the Big Ten earned its first victory over the ACC by a 9-5 margin. As has been the case in recent years, the vast majority of the 2019 Challenge games were remarkably close, with 10 of the 14 contests decided by 10 points or fewer, including Michigan’s 84-76 overtime victory over Syracuse. The Big Ten also claimed a pair of wins over ranked opponents in the event, with Ohio State toppling No. 2/2 Louisville, 67-60, and No. 14/16 Indiana winning at No. 21/22 Miami, 58-45.
Other Big Ten winners in the 2019 Challenge included Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Rutgers.
The Big Ten and ACC offices collaborate to determine the Challenge schedule each season. In addition, the official title of the Challenge rotates each year. The 2021 event will be referred to as the Big Ten/ACC Women’s Basketball Challenge and will continue to mirror the official title of the two conferences’ Challenge agreements in other sports.
The Big Ten and ACC have been among the most competitive conferences on the national women’s basketball landscape for many years, with the conferences combining to send 17 schools to postseason play in 2020-21.
The Big Ten had a conference record-tying seven schools qualify for the NCAA Tournament back in March, as Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Rutgers all advanced to the national tournament. For the first time ever, the Big Ten had four schools (Indiana, Iowa, Maryland and Michigan) reach the Sweet 16, with Indiana advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight. In addition, Nebraska participated in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), reaching the round of 16 before falling in the Memphis Regional semifinal.
Last season, the ACC had eight women’s basketball programs participate in the NCAA Tournament, while a ninth ACC school competed in the WNIT.
Game times, as well as television and streaming video coverage, for the 2021 Big Ten/ACC Women’s Basketball Challenge will be announced at a later date. All Big Ten home games in this year’s Challenge will appear on either the Big Ten Network (BTN), Big Ten Network+ or one of the ESPN networks, while ACC home games in the Challenge will be shown on either the ACC Network, ACC Network Extra or one of the ESPN networks.
The complete schedule of home/away matchups can be found below.
2021 Big Ten/ACC Women’s Basketball Challenge
Wednesday, Dec. 1
North Carolina at Minnesota
Nebraska at Wake Forest
Ohio State at Syracuse
Georgia Tech at Purdue
Rutgers at Pittsburgh
Virginia Tech at Wisconsin
Thursday, Dec. 2
Florida State at Illinois
NC State at Indiana
Iowa at Duke
Miami at Maryland
Michigan at Louisville
Notre Dame at Michigan State
Northwestern at Clemson
Penn State at Boston College