Panther-lair - Pitt draws Northwestern in ACC/Big Ten Challenge
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Pitt draws Northwestern in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

The matchups for the 22nd annual ACC/Big Ten challenge were released this morning. Pitt is slated to take on Northwestern on December 9th in Evanston. The time and television coverage has yet to be announced by ESPN.

Pitt is set to embark on its eighth season as a member of the ACC after joining the league before the 2013-14 season. The game against Northwestern will mark the seventh time Pitt has participated in the event. Pitt holds a 3-3 all-time record in the ACC/Big Ten challenge.

Pitt head coach Jeff Capel holds a 1-1 record in the event. His team lost to Iowa 69-68 back in 2018, and knocked off Rutgers at home last season by a score of 71-60. Pitt has never faced Northwestern in the challenge, but Pitt did face the Wildcats last season in the Fort Myers Tip-off. The Panthers defeated Northwestern 72-59 back on November 27th.

Northwestern is coming off an 8-22 season. The Wildcats are guided by 8th-year head coach Chris Collins. Like Jeff Capel, Collins is a former Duke guard that played under Mike Krzyzewski in college for the Blue Devils. There is familiarity between the head coaches and of course as the teams met a year ago.

“The ACC/Big Ten Challenge is always an exciting couple of days of basketball and a great early season non-conference series,” Capel said in a press release. “Northwestern is a terrific program led by one of my closest friends, Chris Collins. We played a great game against them last year in the championship game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off, so there will be some familiarity heading into the game this season. We will be ready to face a team that is well-prepared, disciplined and eager to compete in December.”

The rest of the Pitt schedule remains unknown at this point. The college basketball season is scheduled to begin on Wednesday November 25th, but due to the uncertainty of the season surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic the schedule has yet to be fully released. Pitt is expected to play 20 ACC games this season, thus likely leaving four unknown non-conference games to round-out the schedule at 25, down from the usual 31 regular season games played in a college basketball season.

The Panthers return a trio of full-time starters in guard Xavier Johnson, and forwards Au'Diese Toney and Justin Champagnie. Capel is also welcoming his highest-rated recruiting class during his Pitt tenure headlined by four-star recruits John Hugley and William Jeffress. Pitt is coming off of a 16-17 campaign and will look to return to the college basketball postseason for the first time since 2016.