NU TO HOST DUKE IN WOMEN’S ACC-BIG 10 BASKETBALL CHALLENGE

Posted 2 months ago

By John Axtell

ACC Big 10 challengeLincoln – Big Ten power Nebraska and ACC power Duke will go head-to-head in one of the marquee matchups of the 2014 ACC/Big Ten Women’s Basketball Challenge.

The two premier conferences announced the eighth annual matchups for the series on Wednesday, and Nebraska will host the Blue Devils on Wednesday, Dec. 3 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.

The teams last met in 2013 in the NCAA Sweet 16, a game won by Duke 53-45 at Norfolk, Va., and were expected to meet in the Sweet 16 this past spring in Lincoln, but both were upset in the second round.

The Huskers are the reigning Big Ten conference tournament champions and finished the second with the second-most wins (26), second-fewest losses (7), and second-highest winning percentage (.788) in program history.

Nebraska advanced to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament, where they won their opener 74-55 over Fresno State – the first time in school history that the Big Red won at least one NCAA Tournament Game in back-to-back seasons.

The Huskers finished No. 13 in the Associated Press Poll, No. 17 in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 and No. 19 in the NCAA RPI.

Duke finished second in the ACC and ended the year at 28-7, closing the regular season at No. 9 in the AP Poll before finishing 13th in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25.

The Blue Devils entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 4 RPI team in the nation and cruised to a first-round NCAA win over Winthrop before being upset by DePaul in the second round.

Duke had advanced to three consecutive NCAA Elite Eight appearances and won three consecutive ACC regular-season titles along with a pair of conference tournament titles prior to last season. The latter streaks were ended by NCAA runnerup Notre Dame,  who beat Duke 3 times, the last in the ACC Championship Game.

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup brings together two of the most successful coaches in the country.

Nebraska’s Connie Yori has won back-to-back Big Ten Coach-of-the-Year honors and enters her 13th season as the school’s all-time winningest coach with 241 victories, while Joanne P. McCallie is 202-42 in eight season at Duke.

Both the Huskers and Blue Devils lost some top players to graduation, but both will still return outstanding lineups this fall.

Nebraska has four returning All-Big Ten starters led by honorable-mention AP All-American and first-team All-Big Ten point guard Rachel Theriot.

Senior forwards Emily Cady (Second Team All-Big Ten) and Hailie Sample (Big Ten All-Defensive) have joined each other in the starting five for 100 consecutive games, while fellow senior Tear’a Laudermill earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in her first year as a starter in 2013-14.

The 2014-15 Huskers will also be bolstered by a seven-player class of incoming freshmen that was ranked No. 9 nationally by ESPN.

Duke lost three senior starters from last year’s group, including a pair of first-round WNBA draft picks in Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston. They went 11-12 in the draft, just ahead of the Husker’s Jordan Hooper, who was chosen with the 13th pick by the Tulsa Shock.

Still, the Blue Devils return All-America center Elizabeth Williams, a senior and national player-of-the-year candidate, along with junior guard Alexis Jones.

The Blue Devil program has made 21 trips to the NCAA Tournament and ranks sixth in history with 53 all-time NCAA Tournament wins.

The 2014 ACC/Big Ten Challenge will feature 14 games, including eight games on Wednesday, Dec. 3 and six games on Thursday, Dec. 4.

2014 ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE SCHEDULE

Wednesday, Dec. 3

Duke at Nebraska
Maryland at Notre Dame
Florida State at Purdue
Minnesota at NC State
Indiana at Boston College
Wake Forest at Michigan
Virginia at Illinois
Pittsburgh at Ohio State

Thursday, Dec. 4

Iowa at Louisville
Penn State at Syracuse
Northwestern at Virginia Tech
Wisconsin at Miami
North Carolina at Rutgers
Georgia Tech at Michigan State