May 13, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame and Illinois have not met on the hardwood since March 2003 when the Irish defeated the Illini in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The 12-year hiatus will come to an end in 2015 when the two teams square off at the 17th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Champaign, Illinois on Wednesday, Dec. 2.
ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise all 14 games of the event that will run from Nov. 30-Dec. 2 as the two conference battle for the Commissioner’s Cup. In addition, all of the games will be available on WatchESPN.
All 14 Big Ten teams and 14 of the 15 ACC teams will participate in the 2015 Challenge. Georgia Tech will not play in this year’s event.
Notre Dame’s matchup with Illinois will mark the 40th meeting between the two teams with the Illini holding a 26-13 advantage in the series. Prior to the 68-60 second-round NCAA tournament victory in Indianapolis in 2003 by the Irish, the two schools had not played each other since January 1973. Notre Dame’s win at the RCA Dome snapped a three-game losing streak for the Irish and was the first win since Jan. 31, 1970 (a 86-83 victory at Chicago Stadium).
Twenty of the previous 39 meetings between Notre Dame and Illinois have taken place on a neutral floor. A majority of those games were played at Chicago Stadium. This year’s contest will be the first to take place on campus since Dec. 18, 1954 when the Illinois defeated the Fighting Irish 66-57 in Champaign.
The series has featured 12 games played at Illinois with the Illini winning 11 of those matchups. Notre Dame’s only win in Champaign (26-14) came on Feb. 6, 1926. Since then the Irish have dropped six straight at Illinois.
In addition to Notre Dame, 12 other teams from the two conferences –Duke, Louisville, NC State, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan — all played in the 2015 NCAA Championship.
Notre Dame returns three starters — senior forward Zach Auguste and junior guards Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia — from last year’s squad that finished 32-6, won the ACC championship and advanced to the NCAA Championship Elite Eight for the first time since 1979. The 32 wins were the second-most in the 110-year history of the program and only the second time that an Irish team registered 30-plus victories. The Irish also finished third in the final ACC regular-season standings with a 14-4 conference record that matched the best regular-season league win total.
Illinois finished the 2014-15 campaign with a 19-14 record and 9-9 Big Ten mark. The Illini played in the National Invitation Tournament and dropped a 79-58 decision at Alabama in the first round.
2015 Big Ten/ACC Challenge schedule (times and networks will be announced in August):
Monday, Nov. 30
Clemson at Minnesota
Wake Forest at Rutgers
Tuesday, Dec. 1
Maryland at North Carolina
Virginia at Ohio State
Michigan at NC State
Purdue at Pittsburgh
Northwestern at Virginia Tech
Miami at Nebraska
Wednesday, Dec. 2
Indiana at Duke
Louisville at Michigan State