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Big Ten aims for another win over ACC

The 12th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge tips off tonight when No. 17 Minnesota hosts Virginia at 7 p.m.

The Big Ten will be vying for its second consecutive victory in the challenge after defeating the ACC 6-5 last season. The ACC won the first 10 challenges.

Tonight’s matchup will be the second time Minnesota faces an ACC opponent after beating then-No. 8 North Carolina on Nov. 19 in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament. That win propelled the Gophers into the Top 25.

Minnesota (6-0) is expected to be without starters Al Nolan and Rodney Williams when it faces the 3-3 Cavaliers. The Gophers are 2-1 in three previous meetings with Virginia in the Challenge.

Tuesday offers five games. No. 25 North Carolina travels to No. 19 Illinois for a 9:30 p.m. tip-off.

The Illini, who lost their only meeting with a ranked team this season to No. 21 Texas, boast the nation’s second leading assist man in the country in point guard Demetri McCamey.

McCamey and UNC forward Tyler Zeller bring two names from the Naismith Player of the Year watch list together in Champaign, Ill. Zeller’s 17 points per game lead the Tar Heels.

Also Tuesday, the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes face off against Florida State for the second consecutive year. OSU will try to equal last year’s 77-64 win at 7:30 p.m. in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Buckeyes enter the matchup a perfect 5-0 on the season.

The Challenge’s only first-time meeting comes Tuesday when Georgia Tech travels to Northwestern.

The Wildcats are led by junior John Shurna, who is averaging 22.7 points and five rebounds a game this season. The Yellow Jackets are struggling at 4-2 after losing Derrick Favors, the third pick in the 2010 NBA draft.

Traditional Big Ten bottom-feeder Iowa (4-14 in conference last season) travels to play Wake Forest at 7 p.m. Both teams enter the matchup at 3-3 and neither is in the top 80 teams in the country in scoring.

The last road game for the Big Ten on Tuesday sees Michigan (3-2) travel to Clemson (5-1) for a 9 p.m. game.

The Wolverines have lost their last two games to Syracuse and the University of Texas-El Paso. Michigan is struggling after losing its top two scorers, Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims.

Five games will close out the Challenge on Wednesday, including the premier inter-conference matchup of No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Michigan State at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The 9:30 p.m. tip-off is the final game of the challenge .

Both teams made Final Four appearances last season, with Duke winning the National Championship. The Blue Devils return just two starters, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, from their title run.

The only other game with a ranked participant Wednesday is No. 8 Purdue at Virginia Tech. Both teams are led by seniors. Boilermaker E’Twaun Moore and Hokie Malcolm Delaney are averaging 19.6 and 20.8 points per game, respectively.

Indiana will travel with a perfect 6-0 record to Boston College Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. The Hoosiers bring sophomore Christian Watford and his 17.5 points a game to Boston with second-year coach Tom Crean.

Boston College will be facing its second Big Ten opponent this season, having lost 65-55 to Wisconsin on November 26.

The Badgers will face a 4-1 North Carolina State team in Raleigh, N.C., at 7:15 p.m. Wisconsin finished last season with a loss to No. 12-seeded Cornell in the NCAA Tournament.

The Wolfpack are led by freshman Lorenzo Brown and sophomore Scott Wood and their 12.6 and 11.6 points per game, respectively.

Penn State will host Maryland in the final Big Ten home game of the challenge at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday.

The game will be the last ACC/Big Ten Challenge for Nittany Lions senior point guard Taylor Battle. Battle is averaging more than 18 points per game.

Maryland boasts a 5-2 record, with losses to then-No. 4 Pittsburgh and No. 16 Illinois.

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