Seemingly every major conference has taken part in a league vs. league challenge over the past several years, with some (Big 12/SEC Challenge, Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge) faring better than others (SEC-Big East Challenge, Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series). But since its inception in 1999, the headliner is still the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The four-day, 14-game series begins on Monday -- but the battle for league supremacy really started back at the Champions Classic, when ACC favorite Duke beat Big Ten favorite Michigan State, giving the ACC momentum to start the season. Since then, the ACC has had some impressive exempt event performances, while the Big Ten is generally looking for consistency.
The ACC won last season for the first time since 2008, after winning the first 10 Challenges. The Big Ten won five of the next seven seasons, with the two leagues tying in 2012 and 2013.
Pittsburgh, as the 15th team from the ACC, will sit this year out.
Syracuse finally begins to test itself after five wins at the Carrier Dome to start the season -- but leading scorer Tyus Battle left last Wednesday's win over Toledo with a back injury. Should he return, the Orange have the firepower to hold serve at home against a Maryland team that has plenty of talent but needs consistency.
Prediction: Syracuse 72, Maryland 66
Result: Syracuse 72, Maryland 70
This is going to be one of the slowest games we'll see all season -- both teams annually rank in the bottom 10 nationally in pace. Despite impressive metrics, Virginia is quietly flying beneath the radar behind a breakout start from Kyle Guy. Isaiah Wilkins should be able to slow Ethan Happ.
Prediction: Virginia 60, Wisconsin 51
Result: Virginia 49, Wisconsin 37
After a home loss to Creighton and a blowout loss to Texas Tech, Northwestern needs to show last season wasn't a fluke. Georgia Tech won't have Josh Okogie back yet, which could hinder the Yellow Jackets offensively. The key for Northwestern could be Scottie Lindsey -- he shot 8-for-22 in the two losses this season.
Prediction: Northwestern 73, Georgia Tech 71
Result: Georgia Tech 52, Northwestern 51
Rutgers is off to an impressive 6-0 start, and now the real tests start: home vs. Florida State, at Minnesota, home vs. Michigan State. The Scarlet Knights defend and rebound, but Florida State has the size to compete on the glass and will make things very difficult for Rutgers on the offensive end.
Prediction: Florida State 77, Rutgers 67
Result: Florida State 78, Rutgers 73
Both teams have plenty of questions right now. Purdue dominated Arizona on Friday but also suffered losses to Tennessee and Western Kentucky. Louisville has experience and talent but hasn't been truly tested yet. Both teams have size, but Purdue gets the edge with its shooting.
Prediction: Purdue 71, Louisville 68
Result: Purdue 66, Louisville 57
Danny Manning and the Demon Deacons are struggling to start the season, losing four of their first six games -- while Brad Underwood has won his first six games in Champaign. For Wake Forest to right the ship, Bryant Crawford needs to take care of the ball, which isn't always easy against Illinois' pressure.
Prediction: Wake Forest 85, Illinois 78
Result: Wake Forest 80, Illinois 73
It will be interesting to see how Iowa responds in a tough environment, as the Hawkeyes lost last week to Louisiana Lafayette and South Dakota State in the Cayman Islands. Virginia Tech has the look of an NCAA tournament team and is flush with offensive weapons; Nickeil Alexander-Walker is one of the best freshmen in the country.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 83, Iowa 72
Result: Virginia Tech 79, Iowa 55
Kevin Keatts has a tough task on his hand in Raleigh, yet last week's win over Arizona provides some optimism. Is this the year the talented youth at Penn State take the next step? Tony Carr is off to a terrific start, but the Wolfpack's pressure will look to disrupt him.
Prediction: NC State 82, Penn State 81
Result: NC State 85, Penn State 78
It could be a difficult year for both programs, although there have been some signs of promise early. This game will likely be a bit of a relief for Chris Holtmann, after facing his former Butler team on Sunday in the PK80. Keita Bates-Diop will be the difference for the Buckeyes.
Prediction: Ohio State 74, Clemson 72
Result: Clemson 79, 65
North Carolina has overcome its personnel losses from last season quicker than expected, with Luke Maye becoming a legitimate go-to option and Kenny Williams providing perimeter shooting. Michigan will look to slow the pace like it did against VCU -- but the Tar Heels are a different animal.
Prediction: North Carolina 80, Michigan 71
Result: North Carolina 86, Michigan 71
Both teams have struggled somewhat in the first few weeks of the season, and that's likely to continue all season. Boston College hasn't won a true road game since beating Virginia Tech in March 2015. That streak ends on Wednesday.
Prediction: Boston College 70, Nebraska 68
Result: Nebraska 71, Boston College 62
Perhaps the best matchup of the Challenge this season. Both teams have legitimate arguments to be top-10 teams right now -- as long as Minnesota doesn't have to play against three-man Alabama the rest of the season. The Gophers get the edge in this one with the inside play of Jordan Murphy and Reggie Lynch.
Prediction: Minnesota 73, Miami 70
Result: Miami 86, Minnesota 81
This is a tough spot for Archie Miller's Challenge debut -- against the most talented team in the country. It's going to take at least a year for the Hoosiers to turn it around, but can they make Duke sweat in Bloomington? They'll have to make shots from the perimeter against the zone.
Prediction: Duke 86, Indiana 72
Result: Duke 81, Indiana 81
This game got a lot more interesting after Notre Dame came back to beat Wichita State and win the Maui Invitational last week. Michigan State will use Jaren Jackson and its plethora of big men to handle Bonzie Colson, but maybe we'll get a few possessions of two All-Americans -- Colson and Miles Bridges -- going head to head.
Michigan State 71, Notre Dame 66
FINAL SCORE: ACC 9, Big Ten 5