|Duke beat Minnesota on its way to the Battle for Atlantis title. Now the Blue Devils face Ohio State. (US Presswire)|
The ACC has lost the ACC/Big Ten Challenge each of the last three years, dropping the conference's all-time record in Challenge games to a mere 21 games over .500. The ACC won the first 10 challenges over its midwestern rivals before the current three-year skid.
Seven of the 12 ACC teams have a winning record in the challenge, led by Duke's 11-2 record and Wake Forest's 10-2. Ohio State, at 6-5, is the only Big Ten team to have more wins than losses. When Maryland jumps conferences, it will become the Big Ten team with the best Challenge record by a three-game margin.
Here are three reasons why the streak stops this year, and the ACC resumes its winning ways.
- The ACC is battle-tested: Duke has wins over Kentucky, Minnesota and Louisville. The Blue Devils have played the sixth-toughest schedule in the country based on Ken Pomeroy's ratings. The schedule of the average ACC team is ranked six spots tougher than that of their challenge opponent in the Pomeroy Strength of Schedule (SOS) ratings. Three Big Ten teams -- Iowa, Northwestern and Nebraska -- have played schedules ranked higher than 300 in Pomeroy's SOS, and Ohio State is at 294. Virginia Tech (322) is the only ACC team ranked lower than 265.
- The Big Ten has been lucky: Pomeroy has come up with a way to statistically measure a team's luck -- how much better their winning percentage is than mathematical predictors would indicate. Based on that analysis, Penn State is the fifth-luckiest team in the country. Nebraska is 18th. The Big Ten has seven teams among the 100 luckiest in the country. The ACC has two. In the luck rankings, the average ACC team is 56 spots lower than its opponent in the challenge. Ten of the 12 ACC teams will face a team luckier than them in the Challenge. ACC teams have won four games by five or fewer points this year. Big Ten teams won eight last week.
- Injuries and suspensions have hit Big Ten teams harder: Seven Big Ten teams will be missing a total of 14 players due to injury or suspension. That includes Wisconsin G Josh Gasser and Penn State G Tim Frazier, both out for the season, and two suspended Indiana freshmen -- C Peter Jurkin and F Hanner Mosquera-Perea. Meanwhile, North Carolina's announcement that G P.J. Hairston would miss the game against Indiana meant that seven ACC teams would be missing a total of nine players, and three of them – Miami G Bishop Daniels and Virginia Gs Jontel Evans and Malcolm Brogdon -- have a chance to play.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from ACC bloggers Shawn Krest and Sean Bielawski, follow @CBSSportsACC.