Greetings from ACC country! I am in Miami today and was traveling, so I didn't get a chance to post earlier, but the ACC/Big Ten Challenge pairings were announced earlier today and Purdue got an opponent that was a bit of a surprise. First, Purdue will be playing in Mackey Arena for the second year in a row. Second, they get a pretty good North Carolina State team.
We last saw NC State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, where they absolutely gacked away a win over St. Louis in a 5/12 game by missing more free throws than we did all season. Still, they were actually in the tournament and beat Xavier in one of the play-in games, so they have that going for them. The Wolfpack also, historically, has fared very well against the Boilers.
NC State is 4-0 all-time against Purdue. They last won 60-53 in the 2004 challenge, which was Gene Keady's less-than-stellar final team. That loss came in Raleigh, while Purdue and NC State met in Mackey when I was a student during the first ever ACC/Big Ten Challenge in 1999. NC State State won that game too 61-59. Purdue went on to the Elite Eight that season, so if another loss to the Wolfpack means a trip to the Elite Eight I will take it.
The other losses came 40 years ago, 86-81 in West Lafayette in January 1974 and 84-71 in Raleigh in December 1971. As I mentioned, NC State was an NCAA Tournament team this past year, so a victory at home would be a nice non-conference win. It would certainly be better than Boston College this past year.
Purdue also enters as the hottest team from either conference in the event. The Boilermakers are on a five game winning streak, beating Boston College, Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest since hosting and losing to Duke in 2008. That has made Purdue 7-6 in the history of the vent, while NC State is 6-8 having beaten Northwestern last year. They had lost five in a row before that.
This is a tough, but winnable game for Purdue, and should be an interesting early test. My only concern is jet lag, as it comes just a few days after the teams returns from Maui.