Illinois coach Bruce Weber took part of the blame last season when the Big Ten fell one victory short of winning the ACC-Big Ten Challenge for the first time. Weber and the Illini get a chance to make up for it this year.
Illinois coach Bruce Weber took part of the blame last season when the Big Ten fell one victory short of winning the ACC-Big Ten Challenge for the first time.
Weber and the Illini get a chance to make up for the 76-74 loss to Clemson in Assembly Hall last December when Illinois plays at Clemson on Dec. 2 in a rematch between two teams that earned NCAA Tournament berths last season.
The Big Ten is 0-10 in the first 10 installments of the made-for-TV series between the two power conferences. Illinois is 3-7 in ACC-Big Ten Challenge games after losing the last three contests.
Illinois returns three starters from a team that finished 24-10 overall and 11-7 in the Big Ten. Clemson has three starters back after compiling a 24-9 record and reached the NCAA Tournament's second round for the second straight season.
Second-team ACC pick Trevor Booker led Clemson in scoring (15.3 points per game) and rebounding (9.7). The Tigers are 8-2 all-time in the challenge, trailing only Duke (10-0) and Wake Forest (8-1).
Penn State, the NIT champ, opens the challenge by playing at Virginia on Nov. 30.
Michigan State plays North Carolina on Dec. 1, pitting the two teams that played for the national championship earlier this month in Ford Field in Detroit. Purdue, the Big Ten Tournament champ, hosts Wake Forest the same night, while Maryland plays at Indiana, Northwestern at North Carolina State and Virginia Tech at Iowa.
Besides the Illinois-Clemson game on Dec. 2, other games that day are Boston College at Michigan, Duke at Wisconsin, Florida State at Ohio State and Minnesota at Miami. Times and TV schedules will be announced at a later date. The games will be shown on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.
John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.