May 5, 2009
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Big Ten Conference office announced today that the Michigan State women's basketball team will face North Carolina in the third-annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Spartans and Tar Heels are scheduled for a Thursday, Dec. 3 matchup at the Breslin Center. Times and TV assignments will be announced at a later date.
"We are excited to play such a talented and successful program as North Carolina in this year's Big Ten/ACC Challenge," said Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant. "We look forward to the opportunity to play a high level competition here at the Breslin Center."
Michigan State is 1-1 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, winning their inaugural contest, 68-51 over Clemson at the Breslin Center, but fell last season, 70-57 at Georgia Tech. The ACC has won each of the previous two challenges, winning eight games in 2007 and seven contests in 2008.
The other matchups in this year's Challenge begin with three games on Wednesday, Dec. 2 - Georgia Tech at Penn State, Illinois at Wake Forest, Boston College at Iowa. Play wraps up on Thursday with seven contests in addition to the MSU/UNC battle - Michigan at Virginia Tech, Clemson at Northwestern, Minnesota at Maryland, Ohio State at Duke, Purdue at Virginia, Florida State at Indiana, Wisconsin at N.C. State.
North Carolina has won the three previous meetings with Michigan State, but has yet to play a game in East Lansing. The first two games were played in Chapel Hill, with UNC coming out on top 66-53 on Dec. 15, 1991 and 81-71 in overtime in the NCAA Second Round on March 16, 1997. The two programs last met on Dec. 19, 1999, in Myrtle Beach, S.C., an 82-65 Tar Heel win.
Michigan State is fresh off its third NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in program history. The Spartans finished 22-11 overall, including a 13-5 mark in Big Ten play to finish second. MSU, who was No. 22 in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, upset No. 1-seed Duke and No. 8-seed Middle Tennessee State en route to its appearance at the Berkeley Regional. The green and white will lose only one letterwinner -Mia Johnson - from last season's squad and return their top-six scorers.
North Carolina finished last season at 28-7 and No. 17 in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, but lost to Purdue in the NCAA Tournament Second Round. The Tar Heels, who were fourth in the ACC at 10-4, will return three starters and five of their top six scorers from last season.
For more information about the Big Ten/ACC Women's Basketball Challenge, including a complete schedule, log on to www.bigten.org.
Wednesday, December 2
Georgia Tech at Penn State
Illinois at Wake Forest
Boston College at Iowa
Thursday, December 3
Michigan at Virginia Tech
Clemson at Northwestern
Minnesota at Maryland
North Carolina at Michigan State
Ohio State at Duke
Purdue at Virginia
Florida State at Indiana
Wisconsin at N.C. State