A pair of teams picked to finish in the bottom half of their respective conferences could end up deciding which league wins the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night when Nebraska visits North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C.
It will be the first-ever meeting between the Big Ten's Nebraska (5-2) and the ACC's NC State (5-1).
The Big Ten started quickly in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge by winning both of the Monday night matchups, with six games slated for Tuesday and six more for Wednesday. The Big Ten has won the Challenge in the past two seasons.
Played yearly since 1999, the ACC won the first 10 years, but since then the Big Ten is 7-2-3. NC State is 8-12 all-time in the event, while the Cornhuskers are 5-5.
Nebraska will be playing its first game away from home this season. It finished a seven-game run in Lincoln with an 83-70 win over South Dakota on Saturday in which Bryce McGowens scored 22 points. McGowens received Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors after averaging 19.3 points in three victories.
Keisei Tominaga scored 23 off the bench against South Dakota. The Cornhuskers have six players averaging at least 7.1 points.
"It all starts with playing as a team and believing in each other and knowing that your teammate has your back and believes in you," McGowens said. "We have a lot of people that can score the ball on this team. I feel comfortable knowing that the next player is going to make a play out of the play that I make."
NC State is 4-0 at PNC Arena this season, most recently beating Louisiana Tech 90-81 on Saturday. The Wolfpack got a career-high 31 points from senior Jericole Hellems, one of four players averaging in double figures.
"He didn't force anything," NC State coach Kevin Keatts said. "He played like a veteran guy."
Dereon Seabron leads the Wolfpack with 18.8 points and 9.7 rebounds a game.
Both teams have adjusted their game plans after losing starters to significant injuries early in the season.
Nebraska lost Trey McGowens (Bryce's brother) to a broken foot in the third game, while NC State lost Manny Bates to a season-ending shoulder injury one minute into the season opener.
Nebraska lost its last five road games last season and hasn't won a non-conference road game since beating Clemson in the 2019 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
NC State is 7-3 at home in the event, its last loss coming in 2015 against Michigan.
--Field Level Media