5 O'Clock Shadow: Big Ten/ACC Challenge

News you can't leave work without: With conference plates in a state of flux, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge is changing.

The Big Ten’s addition of Nebraska makes this the first Challenge with 12 games. And there will have to be further adjustments when basketball powers Syracuse and Pittsburgh join the ACC starting with the 2013-14 season.

For now, the Big Ten can lean on its consecutive triumphs in the Challenge. Both wins came by a 6-5 count, and the matchups are in the Big Ten’s favor this season.

The ACC is in a state of flux, too. Seven of the 12 teams have first- or second-year coaches, including Maryland with first-year coach Mark Turgeon. The Big Ten has only one coach in his first season (Patrick Chambers, Penn State) and one coach in his second season (Fran McCaffery, Iowa). The Big Ten, which has the nation’s top power rating, is reaping the benefits of stability in the early season.

“The Big Ten has kind of surprised people from top to bottom,” Bruce Weber said.

The Illini have won two straight games in the Challenge but are 0-3 against Maryland in the event. “I grew up watching Duke. And you always think about the Duke-Maryland games, how the Maryland fans would be all over J.J. Redick and stuff like that,” junior Tyler Griffey said. “I’m kind of excited to play in an environment like that.”

A note from Monday: Minnesota forward Trevor Mbakwe will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, a devastating blow for the Gophers. Mbakwe’s knee bent awkwardly when he was fighting for rebound position in Sunday’s loss to Dayton during the championship game of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. He left the arena in tears and on crutches, and on Monday the university confirmed the diagnosis.
 

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