Ranking the ACC/Big Ten Challenge: Michigan State, Duke freshmen make for devilishly good matchup

The ACC might have placed six teams in the Sweet 16 and owned half of the Elite Eight and Final Four last season, but any bragging would be lost on the Big Ten's members. After winning the first 10 ACC/Big Ten Challenges from 1999 to 2008, the ACC hasn't seen any parts of the Commissioner's Cup. The Big Ten has won five and tied twice since 2009.

Michigan State at Duke and North Carolina at Indiana are the top games that could eventually have national implications when it's time for the NCAA tournament committee to dole out seeding in March. But Nov. 28-30, well before it gets to that point, college basketball fans will get some quality nonconference matchups.

Here's a ranking of each game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge:

1. Michigan State at Duke: Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski hauled in two of the nation's best recruiting classes. Of particular interest among the highly touted freshmen could be the battle at small forward between State's Miles Bridges and Duke's Jayson Tatum, rated No. 8 and No. 2, respectively, in the ESPN 100 top 10. Duke is 15-2 in the challenge, with both of its losses coming on the road. The Spartans have lost their past five meetings against the Blue Devils, including in the 2015 Final Four.

2. North Carolina at Indiana: This rematch of last year's Sweet 16 game won by the Tar Heels could be either the best game or the biggest dud. Carolina avoided losing any players to early departures. Indiana is still hoping to hear Troy Williams and James Blackmon Jr., will end up back in Bloomington. If both stay, as center Thomas Bryant already did, the Hoosiers will have a formidable trio. If one or both end up turning pro, the game will have a very different outlook.

3. Purdue at Louisville: Boilermakers were hurt by inconsistent point guard play last season, but that could change with the arrival of freshman Carsen Edwards and graduate transfer Spike Albrecht. They'll need heady play against the Cardinals' defense. Louisville is banking on the emergence of sophomores Deng Adel and Donovan Mitchell regardless of Chinanu Onuaku's NBA draft status.

4. Ohio State at Virginia: The first of two rematches from last year's challenge. The Cavaliers become point guard London Perrantes' team now. He'll have a new post player to ease the scoring burden: Memphis transfer Austin Nichols. The versatility of leading Buckeyes scorer Marc Loving could pose a challenge for staunch Cavs defense.

5. Syracuse at Wisconsin: The second rematch from last year's challenge. The Badgers' road upset of the Orange last season was the first big win that helped catapult their season. Syracuse will look to do the same this coming season as Malachi Richardson's decision to turn pro leaves the team with some questions offensively.

6. Pittsburgh at Maryland: Pitt coach Kevin Stallings is new to this challenge, but he knows Maryland coach Mark Turgeon very well. Both served on the same staff as assistant coaches at Kansas under Roy Williams for three seasons. The Terps are in a situation like that of Syracuse, unexpectedly losing forward Robert Carter to the NBA draft and with Melo Trimble still undecided.

7. Virginia Tech at Michigan: This here is what they call a sneaky good game. The Hokies could be the surprise team of the ACC with nine of their top 10 players back from last season. If the Wolverines stay healthy, they could be in the upper echelon of the Big Ten behind Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin.

8. Minnesota at Florida State: Who doesn't want more Bacon? The Seminoles have one of the best backcourts in Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Jordan Murphy guides a Gophers squad that should be much more competitive than last season.

9. Iowa at Notre Dame: Both teams are firmly in rebuilding mode, although the Fighting Irish have a more experienced foundation returning. V.J. Beachem, Bonzie Colson and Steve Vasturia will anchor Notre Dame, and the Hawkeyes will rely heavily on Peter Jok.

10. NC State at Illinois: One of seven first-time matchups in the challenge, Wolfpack replace all-everything point guard Cat Barber with freshman all-everything Dennis Smith Jr. But playing on the road will be daunting against Orange Krush crowd.

11. Wake Forest at Northwestern: Both fan bases are asking the same question: Could this be the breakthrough year? The Wildcats' record has improved each year under Chris Collins. Danny Manning has a solid young core to build with at Wake.

12. Nebraska at Clemson: Tigers anxiously await Jaron Blossomgame's announcement on whether to return to school or stay in the draft. He could mean the difference between the NIT and the NCAAs. Andrew White and Tai Webster could be a problem for Clemson defenders.

13. Rutgers at Miami: Canes have leaned on transfers in past; next season a pair of freshman could carry them in Bruce Brown and Dewan Huell. Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell could be in for a rude welcome as he makes the leap from mid-major Stony Brook.

14. Georgia Tech at Penn State: Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner makes his debut in the Challenge. Nittany Lions' nonconference schedule is an ACC Challenge in itself with games against Duke and Pittsburgh.