Eleven. That's the number of member schools in the Big Ten Conference. Really. And the top-ranked team among them? Ohio State. The ACC's top-ranked team? The Maryland Terrapins, of course. And tomorrow night (Friday) at 7 PM in Comcast, the Big
Eleven's Ten's #1 team faces off against the ACC's #1 in the 2007 (and inaugural) Big Eleven Ten/ACC Women's Basketball Challenge.
With two whole days between their last game and tomorrow's (practically an eternity!), the Terps should have no problem getting up for a little inter-conference rivalry. Plus, the Buckeyes just happen to be the last non-ACC team to beat the Terps on their home floor in College Park (2005 2nd round of the NCAA tournament) . . . so Maryland may also be looking for a little pay-back. OSU is currently ranked #17/19 in the polls and has one of the top freshmen players in the nation, center Jantel Lavender, who comes in averaging 16.7 points and 9.3 rebounds. It should make for an exciting game in this inaugural event.
As of now, the ACC leads the Challenge 2-1 -- thanks to wins last night by Wake Forest (over Northwestern) and Georgia Tech (over Iowa); Miami lost earlier to Michigan. Tonight, Clemson plays at Michigan State, Illinois plays at NC State, and UNC hosts the Big Ten's 2nd ranked team, Purdue (7 PM on ESPN2). [By the way, what is it with the 'Heels playing all their games at home? Counting exhibitions, tonight's contest vs the Boilermakers will be UNC's 11th game of the year . . . every one of them at home in Chapel Hill! Perhaps Coach Hatchell is wearing an ankle bracelet (à la Paris Hilton) so she can't leave the area? But we digress.]
If the game isn't enough reason to head over to Comcast tomorrow, don't forget that in honor of Coach Frese's being "in the family way," the University is throwing the World's Largest Baby Shower to collect gifts for Toys for Tots. So, bring a new un-wrapped toy to donate, and help a less fortunate child have a happier holiday season.
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Friday Morning Update: Following last night's games, the ACC is now leading the Big Ten 4-2. UNC cruised to an easy win over Purdue, 90-72; Khadijah Whittington led NC State past Illinois, 61-47; and, Michigan State notched the Big Ten's only win by defeating Clemson, 68-51. Three Big Ten/ACC Challenge games (besides ours) are on tap for tonight: Minnesota plays at Virginia Tech, Virginia hosts Wisconsin and Florida State travels to Indiana. Last but
not least, Duke heads to Happy Valley on Sunday to meet Penn State in the final game of the Challenge.