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Killing the Big Ten-ACC Challenge is Great, Actually

The Big Ten has better opportunities out there—and its partnership with FOX shows the potential of a future ratings bonanza.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Rob Goebel/IndyStar via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Happy Big Ten-ACC Challenge Week!

Now enjoy it while it lasts—only one more year of Duke-humping for the entirety of a broadcast.

ESPN, petty assholes that they are, are taking their ball and going home:

The beauty? This is the farthest thing imaginable from a problem.

...and it’s actually because the Big Ten has been getting very little out of the Challenge for some time.

Outside Duke and North Carolina—and often Virginia—carrying the ACC’s water, the B1G-ACC Challenge became one or two forced ratings parings and a whole lot of dreck: Pitt-Northwestern. Miami-Penn State. Rutgers-Anyone. Duke was never going to play Maryland, and worrying about one stupid East Coast matchup is dumb for a number of reasons.

Point is, the ACC—and ESPN—had become a drag on the Challenge and on the Big Ten’s bubble programs as a whole.

Thankfully, there’s a simply elegant solution:

Per SI and CBS Sports and a billion other outlets, FOX and FS1 will now be airing Big XII basketball games as a result of the deal.

We know any other conferences that have a deal with them?

Turns out, the Big XII would be a better opponent not only for potential ratings with the cream of the crop in Kansas, Houston, Texas Tech, Baylor, and others, but for competition, too:

Jeff Sagarin College Basketball Ratings, screenshot taken 11/28/22

That’s a major upgrade.

Here’s what a 2022 slate of the B1G-Big XII Challenge would look like:

The B1G-Big XII Challenge

Monday, November 28

Baylor Bears at Michigan Wolverines (6pm CT, FS1)

Oklahoma State Cowboys at Illinois Fighting Illini (8pm, FS1)

Northwestern Wildcats at Kansas State Wildcats (8pm, FS2)

Nebraska Cornhuskers at BYU Cougars (10pm, FS1)

Tuesday, November 29

Maryland Terrapins at West Virginia Mountaineers (6pm CT, FS1)

UCF Citronauts at wisconsin badgers (6:30pm, BTN)

Ohio State Buckeyes at Cincinnati Bearcats (8pm, FS1)

Iowa State Cyclones at Minnesota Gophers (8:30pm, BTN)

Wednesday, November 30

Purdue Boilermakers at Kansas Jayhawks (6pm CT, FS1)

Houston Cougars at Indiana Hoosiers (7pm, FOX)

TCU Horned Frogs at Iowa Hawkeyes (7pm, BTN)

Michigan State Spartans at Texas Tech Red Raiders (8pm, FS1)

Please note that my decision to omit Penn State and Rutgers was not initially a conscious choice—the former is forgettable, and the latter welcomes not having to play any tough non-conference games outside Seton Hall.

On the whole, though, this is a stronger pairing for both conferences. Here are the numbers:

I’d watch a number of these, just as a casual fan—and I won’t miss the ACC slobber all over ESPN. They can have their Georgia Tech-Vanderbilt matchups.

But what say you?


The B1G-Big XII Challenge?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Hell yeah, sign me up!
    (151 votes)
  • 34%
    Sure, I guess.
    (98 votes)
  • 7%
    Nah, just let teams figure things out on their own.
    (22 votes)
  • 5%
    No, and I’ll miss the ACC :(
    (16 votes)
287 votes total Vote Now