When scanning the recent match-ups concocted for the 2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge next November, it is readily apparent that the ESPN executives were adamant that specific battles should occur. This year's schedule gives “made for TV” a new meaning.
In the case of games such as North Carolina at Indiana and Ohio State at Duke, those executives – as does the nation's basketball fans - wanted to see powerhouse programs collide.
The Virginia at Wisconsin game may set offensive basketball back a few decades, but it will still create an intriguing contest between similar programs, styles, and coaches. There is no truth to the rumor that the game will air in black-and-white with the players each sporting a new set of Chuck Taylors to go with their short-shorts, but it does add the storyline of Cavalier coach Tony Bennett returning to his home state and former employer, which for die-hard hoop fans is interesting.
Even some of the lesser-regarded games such as Boston College at Penn State, Georgia Tech at Illinois, and Iowa at Virginia Tech will be competitive. And then you have the game drawn up with Purdue traveling to Clemson on Nov. 28.
The similarities between these two programs and its coaches won't create a sexy story line, but for basketball purists – particularly at the defensive end of the court - it sure will be fun to watch.
“I know that we are getting a very tough-minded, physical and well-coached basketball team,” Tiger coach Brad Brownell said of the Boilermakers.
Dick Vitale is only going to stop in Clemson if his car breaks down, but make no mistake about this game, it will be well played, well coached, and you'll get 40 minutes (at least) of effort, intelligence, and grit. If you want playground basketball, dunks, or fancy passes, grab the clicker, because those things won't be happening inside Littlejohn Coliseum.
“Big Ten teams generally take care of the ball and play more of a half-court style,” Brownell said. “Defensively they take a lot of pride in making it hard to score.”
Just like Clemson does.
If you enjoy cutting, passing, spacing and an occasional shot-clock violation, this game will suffice.
In addition to similar styles of play, both Brownell and Boilermaker coach Matt Painter at this point of their seasons will be searching for answers when it comes to their teams.
Purdue will have seven freshmen and sophomores on its roster and several will find themselves in significant roles from the first practice on. Brownell can sympathize with Painter.
“We have 10 freshmen and sophomores, so we're young too,” Brownell said. “Both teams will be trying to figure things out.”
The Boilermakers have won four consecutive games within this conference series and the Tigers have also been successful in winning 9 of their 13 games against Big Ten teams. Despite knowing that beating Purdue will be difficult, Brownell is excited about what playing the Boilermakers can do for his young squad.
“I'm glad that we're playing Purdue at home rather than up there,” Brownell said. “But they are a team that has won a lot of road games. This is good experience for us and these types of games are good for us in preparing for ACC play.”