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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wisconsin Gets Wolfpack In Challenge

The 2010 Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchups were officially released yesterday and some prognosticators already give an edge to the Big Ten. The general consensus is that Wisconsin should prevail over N.C. State on Dec. 1 in the friendly confines of the Kohl Center.

There is no reason to get deep into the matchup's specifics until this fall, but interesting tidbits abound as this popular series continues into its second decade ...

:: Wisconsin is one of only seven teams that have played in all 11 Challenges so far, due to the two conferences' size inequality over the years. The ACC had only nine active members until 2005 and has had 12 since 2006.

:: When the Big Ten had more members, a pair of randomly selected teams rotated in and out of the challenge every two years. Now that the ACC is larger, it's last-place team sits out of the competition the following year, leading to what some view as a slight advantage for that conference.

Before jumping to conclusions, one thing to consider is how good the ACC's "odd man out" actually wound up performing that season. The ACC usually does luck out, but the Big Ten may have dodged a bullet in 2007:

Only two times did the Big Ten cellar dweller miss the Challenge the following year (Penn State, 2003-04).

:: The Badgers are tied with Northwestern for the most road losses (5) of any team in the series, while posting the Big Ten's best home winning percentage (.750). N.C. State is nearly a mirror image to Wisconsin in terms of past challenge success. The tilt with the Wolfpack will be UW's fifth home game in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Both Maryland (@Penn State) and Wake Forest (home vs. Iowa) are 5-0 at home.

:: While Wisconsin will try to reach the .500 mark all-time in this series, the Big Ten is going for its second-straight win to swing momentum in its favor. After starting out competitively (the ACC led 20-15 overall after four years), the Big Ten got pummeled, 36-15, between 2003 and 2007.

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