As the schedule and pairings still remain influx for the annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge, I wanted to take a moment to provide a suggested breakdown for the best pairings from a fan perspective. Looking back the past few seasons, this pairing takes into account the home-and-away balance the past three seasons and projected standings on the upcoming season for competitive balance.
You can also compare my matchups with those of Andy Katz. Some of them end up being the same, but I differ on a few of them as well.
Pittsburgh Panthers at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Penn State Nittany Lions at Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Indiana Hoosiers at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
NC State Wolfpack at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Maryland Terrapins at Florida State Seminoles
Michigan State Spartans at Virginia Cavaliers
North Carolina Tar Heels at Wisconsin Badgers
Boston College Eagles at Northwestern Wildcats
Syracuse Orange at Michigan Wolverines
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Ohio State Buckeyes
Minnesota Golden Gophers at Virginia Tech Hokies
Purdue Boilermakers at Miami Hurricanes
Louisville Cardinals at Iowa Hawkeyes
Illinois Fighting Illini at Duke Blue Devils
All of these matchups at time of publishing have been checked with other non-conference tournaments and previously scheduled games that are still being planned to ensure no double-plays occur. With Nebraska pulling out of the Orlando Invitational, that opens up the Pittsburgh matchup and offers a fun matchup given the rosters include transfers from each program to the other. Similarly, an initial desire for Purdue-Notre Dame was unavailable due to that game still being tentatively planned for an instead Indiana makes the trip up to the northern part of the state. Finally, Illinois at Duke is not a great matchup at the top of the standings, but to keep a balanced home-and-away schedule with how the last few seasons shook out that leaves the Illini drawing the Duke straw this season.
What do you think? Do you like the pairings, or what would you have changed?