Iowa, Notre Dame to Clash in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

May 24, 2016

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team is paired with Notre Dame as part of the 2016 ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Hawkeyes and Fighting Irish will meet in South Bend, Indiana, on Tuesday, Nov. 29.

Game time and television information will be announced at a later date. ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU will combine to televise all 14 games of the three-day event, matching top college basketball programs playing for conference supremacy and the Commissioners Cup. All 14 games will also be available on mobile devices via WatchESPN.

This will mark the 16th overall meeting between the Fighting Irish and Hawkeyes, and third in four seasons. This will be Iowa’s seventh visit to Notre Dame and first since Nov. 17, 1990. The Hawkeyes and Irish first met in 1923 (Iowa City) and last competed at the 2015 Advocare Invitational (Orlando).

“We always look forward to this event and this year is no different,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “I have the utmost respect for head coach Mike Brey and the Notre Dame basketball program. Notre Dame is extremely well-coached and is consistently one of the top teams in the country. This will be a good road test for our basketball team early in the season.”

McCaffery has ties to Notre Dame, having served as an assistant coach with the Irish for 11 years from 1988-99, serving on the staffs of Richard “Digger” Phelps and John MacLeod. He helped the Irish to NCAA Tournament appearances in 1989 and 1990, and the NIT finals in 1992.

Iowa has won its last three Challenge games in thrilling fashion, all by five points or less. Iowa topped Notre Dame (98-93) in Iowa City in 2013, won at No. 12 North Carolina (60-55) in 2014, and outlasted Florida State (78-75) in overtime in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes’ victory over Notre Dame in 2013 was the Irish’s first Challenge game since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Hawkeyes return eight players, including second-leading scorer from a year ago Peter Jok (16.1 ppg). Iowa posted a 22-11 record, tied for third place in the Big Ten, and advanced to the NCAA Round of 32 this past season.

Notre Dame posted a 24-12 record, tied for fifth place in the ACC, and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight a year ago. The Irish return three starters from last season: V.J. Beachum (12.0 ppg), Steve Vasturia (11.4 ppg), and Bonzie Colson (11.1 ppg). Demetrius Jackson, who averaged a team-best 15.8 points last year, will not return for his senior season after declaring for the NBA Draft.

Notre Dame is 2-1 in Challenge games, winning at Illinois last season (84-79) and edging Michigan State in overtime (79-78) at home in 2014. The Fighting Irish lost their initial Challenge game in 2013 at Iowa (98-93).

The Big Ten Conference has won five of the last seven Challenges (2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, and 2015), including last year by a count of 8-6, to retain possession of the Commissioners Cup. The ACC and Big Ten split the 2012 and 2013 Challenges, with each conference notching six victories.