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Pitt, PSU men will play hoops against each other

May 9, 2013
The Altoona Mirror

From Mirror reports

UNIVERSITY PARK - Penn State and Pittsburgh will rekindle their rivalry as part of the 2013 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

The Nittany Lions and Panthers will meet for the 145th time, and first since 2005, when they collide Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Pittsburgh's Petersen Events Center on the first of two days of the 2013 Challenge. Pittsburgh, which begins competition in the ACC in the 2013-14 season, will be the Lions' eighth different opponent in the Challenge, which is entering its 15th season. Penn State has won four of their last six Challenge contests, including its last three Challenge road games, and has a 5-7 record overall in 12 Challenge appearances.

"We are excited to continue a tremendous rivalry with such a long and storied tradition between our two Universities," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "It's great that we can be a part of an event that also matches the top two basketball conferences in the nation."

All 12 games in the 15th annual staging of the Challenge between two of the most successful college basketball conferences will be televised by a combination of ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Tip times and television arrangements will be announced at a later date.

Pitt leads the all-time series with Penn State, which began in 1906, by a count of 76-68 and has won the last five meetings. Penn State's last win in the series came with an 88-74 victory in the Bryce Jordan Center in 2000. The teams last met in 2005 with Pitt claiming a 91-54 victory in Pittsburgh to complete a series of meetings in six straight seasons. The programs met at least once a year every season from 1935 through 1982 and every season except for two between 1913 and 1982.

Pitt returns three starters and six of its top 10 scorers from a team that finished 24-9 overall and advanced to its 11th NCAA Tournament over the last 12 seasons in 2012-13.

Pitt, Notre Dame and Syracuse will join the Challenge in their first seasons in the ACC. The 2013 Challenge involves eight teams ranked in the early preseason top 25, including six of the top 11 teams: No. 3 Michigan State, No. 5 Duke, No. 6 Ohio State, No. 8 Syracuse, No. 9 Michigan, No. 11 North Carolina, No. 20 Indiana and No. 25 Iowa. Fourteen teams between the two conferences played in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Penn State will boast the top three returning scorers in the Big Ten in 2013-14. The Lions return four of their top five scorers and rebounders as well as 80 percent or more of their points, rebounds and assists from a 2012-13 squad that posted a 10-21 record, but knocked of No. 4-ranked and eventual NCAA runner-up Michigan (84-78) in late February. First-team All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier (Houston, Texas), who ranked second in the Big Ten in scoring (18.8 ppg) and led the league in assists (6.2) in 2011-12, returns with an NCAA medical hardship waiver after playing in just four games in 2012-13 after suffering a torn Achilles.

He will join 2013 All-Big Ten honorable-mention honorees D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall, who finished fifth (16.3 ppg) and sixth (15.3 ppg), respectively, in the Big Ten in scoring in 2012-13, to form one of the most potent backcourts in the nation. Sophomore forward Ross Travis, who finished fifth in the Big Ten in rebounding (7.4 rpg) and posted double-doubles in three of his last seven games, and Brandon Taylor , who made 32 threes in his freshman season, will anchor the frontcourt.

Penn State dropped its ACC/Big Ten Challenge contest 73-61 to Boston College last year. Marshall (25) and Newbill (20) both logged 20-point games in that contest. The leagues tied at six wins each in the 2012 Challenge, the first ever tie in the event, as the Big Ten retained the Commissioners Cup after having won the previous three Challenges. The Big Ten has three Challenge wins overall while the ACC has won 10 Challenges.Seven of the previous 14 Challenges have been decided by one game.

Penn State's last four wins in Challenge games have come at Boston College (2011), vs. Virginia Tech (2007), at Georgia Tech (2008) and at Virginia (2009). In 2010, Penn State became the first ever Big Ten program to win Challenge games in three consecutive seasons.

The rest of the 2013 Challenge looks like this: Minnesota will host Florida State and Iowa will host Notre Dame in Big Ten home contests. Illinois travels to Georgia Tech, Indiana is at Syracuse and Michigan is at Duke.

The Challenge wraps up on Wednesday, Dec. 4, with six more games. Purdue will host Boston College, Ohio State welcomes Maryland, Nebraska hosts Miami, Fla. and Michigan State hosts North Carolina in Big Ten home games. Northwestern travels to North Carolina State and Wisconsin to Virginia in Big Ten road contests.

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