The 13th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge gets underway this evening. Based on Monday’s ratings, here are the chances of the favored team winning each game…


Michigan at Virginia (62%)
Northwestern at Georgia Tech (52%)
Illinois (55%) at Maryland
Miami at Purdue (79%)
Clemson (55%) at Iowa
Duke at Ohio State (78%)


Penn State (62%) at Boston College
Indiana (53%) at N.C. State
Florida State at Michigan State (68%)
Virginia Tech at Minnesota (62%)
Wake Forest at Nebraska (86%)
Wisconsin (54%) at North Carolina

Obviously there are a few grains of salt to be taken here. Even if Harrison Barnes is less than 100%, UNC should be expected to beat Wisconsin. And Minnesota no longer has the services of Trevor Mbakwe, thus their chances against Virginia Tech may be closer to a toss-up.

Using the game probabilities listed, the following chart describes the likelihood of every possible scenario in the event. Keep in mind, for the first time in the history of the event, there are an even number of games scheduled*. This brings in the possibility of a tie.

This is not only a semi-useful analysis, but an instructive exercise in math! Even with the Big Ten favored in nine games based on the ratings, the most likely outcome is a 7-5 Big Ten victory due to many of the match-ups being close to coin flips.

Add up the numbers, and you get the following chances for each conference winning:

Big Ten: 68.9%
ACC: 13.5%
Tie: 17.5%

Even if we give UNC a 70% chance of winning and Virginia Tech a 50% chance of victory, The Big Ten’s win probability only drops to 61%. For the record, the Big Ten has a 0.18% chance of a skunk, while just two out of one million simulations resulted in a 12-0 ACC win.

The early power ratings have emphatically supported the Big Ten being the strongest conference in the country. The next two days will serve as a great indication whether this is realistic or not.

*This won’t be the first time an even number of games have been played, however. In 2001, an even number of games were played after the Michigan State/Virginia game was cancelled at halftime when condensation from the hockey rink at the Richmond Coliseum was deemed to have made playing conditions unsafe.