A new era of ACC basketball is starting next season with the first ever ACC-SEC Challenge, which obviously replaces the ACC-B1G Challenge that took place from 1999-2022. The new challenge will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 28 and Wednesday, Nov. 29, and feature every SEC team and every team in the ACC except for Louisville. The Deacs will host the Florida Gators for their game on Wednesday, Nov 29th at 7:15pm.
The Gators finished last season 16-17 overall and 9-9 in SEC play in Todd Golden’s first season at the helm in Gainesville, losing in the opening round of the NIT to UCF by double digits. Since the end of the season, Florida has been aggressive in the transfer portal, landing MAAC Player of the Year Walter Clayton (16.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.2 apg), Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Micah Handlogten (7.6 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.2 apg), Second Team All-Ivy League forward EJ Jarvis (11.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg), and Seton Hall big man Tyrese Samuel (11.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg). Those additions should make the Gators a tough opponent next season.
It’s sad to see the ACC-B1G Challenge—which has basically been around as long as I have been watching college basketball—come to an end with the TV rights of the B1G changing hands. It’s even more sad to see it go considering that Wake Forest was one of the best teams in the conference in the Challenge during its 24-season run. Behind just Duke (20-4), the Deacs finished with second best win percentage in the ACC with a 14-6 (.700) record and had more wins than any B1G team managed over that 24-year span (Purdue finished with a B1G high 13 wins).
“Out with the old, in with the new” has kind of become the mantra of college sports over the past couple of years, and this new challenge is no different. With the way TV rights are flying around and teams are jumping conferences, there’s no way to tell how long the ACC-SEC Challenge will actually last, but for now, the Deacs are 0-0 in the Challenge and have a great opportunity to get their first win over the SEC this season. Hopefully their dominance from the B1G Challenge can carry over against the SEC.