If you’ve ever wondered how the Big Ten/ACC Challenge men’s college basketball match-ups are determined, the pairings for 2018 should leave little doubt. Despite Duke finishing 2nd in the ACC, and Indiana 6th in the Big Ten last season, the teams will meet in the event for the third time in the last four years.
If the teams are not matched up based on their prior season conference standings, there seems to be only one other possibility — TV ratings. It is hard to blame the television networks. You might as well pair up the biggest names and create marquee, prime-time match-ups.
On the other hand, no one outside of their own fan bases is going to watch Purdue or Florida State, so you might as well pair them up too. We kid, Purdue. We kid. Sort of.
It is clear that Duke vs. Indiana is an ESPN favorite, and the intrigue should only grow this year. Both teams are iconic programs. Both teams are likely to be ranked in the Top 25. And this year, both teams have freshmen mega-stars on their roster.
While five-star freshmen are an annual occurrence for the Blue Devils, the Hoosiers have only had a few in recent years going back to Cody Zeller. That has changed this year when the Hoosiers obtained the commitment of New Albany, Indiana based Romeo Langford. Along with him, Indiana has pulled together a 2018 class that is ranked in the top 10 nationally — and that’s before you include redshirt freshman Race Thompson and graduate transfer Evan Fitzner.
Duke once again has the No. 1 class in the country — a class that includes four 5-star recruits. The incoming Blue Devils include R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones. Reddish and incoming IU recruit Jake Forrester were actually high school teammates at Westtown in Pennsylvania.
But the headline names in the 2018 class are Langford for Indiana and Zion Williamson of Duke. You know all about Langford’s special talents. If you have any doubt about Williamson, take a look at what he did at the McDonald’s All-American Game dunk contest.
The 2018 Indiana / Duke game in Durham won’t be the first time Langford and Williamson have met on the floor. The dynamic stars were matched up in the 2016 and 2017 AAU seasons, and you can watch them below. The pair is matched up against one another on the floor on several occasions.
Langford appears on two different teams in the video. First, he is #22 on the EG10 All-Stars. In the second session he is #1 on the 22 Vision team. You know that team — the one that Bob Kravitz would have you believe is the only plausible reason why Langford is headed to Bloomington.
Williamson is number 12 in both sessions.
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