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May 8, 2013

Hawks draw Notre Dame in B1G/ACC Challenge

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Iowa men's basketball team will host Notre Dame, Tuesday, Dec. 3, as part of the 2013 Big Ten/ACC Challenge Presented by Dick's Sporting Goods.

After 18 seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame begins a new era as a first-year member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. This will mark the first meeting between the Irish and Hawkeyes since 1990. Notre Dame holds an 8-5 all-time series advantage over Iowa, but the Hawkeyes have won four of the last five.

"It's going to be exciting hosting Note Dame, a successful program that is rich in tradition, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena," said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. "Notre Dame is an extremely well-coached team that has advanced to the last four NCAA tournaments. This will be another good test for our basketball team early in the season."

Notre Dame, along with Syracuse and Pittsburgh, join the ACC this fall and will be competing in their first-ever Challenge. With 15 teams in the ACC this season, Clemson, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech will not be participating in this year's event.

Game times and television information will be announced at a later date. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise all 12 games of the two-day event matching top college basketball programs playing for conference supremacy and the Commissioners Cup. All 12 games will also be available via WatchESPN.

Iowa is 2-10 in the Challenge after falling 95-79 at Virginia Tech a year ago. The Hawkeyes did not take part in the event in 2003 and 2004. This year marks the 15th year of the event.

McCaffery has ties to Notre Dame, having served as an assistant coach with the Irish for 11 years from 1988-99, serving on the staffs of Richard "Digger" Phelps and John MacLeod. He helped the Irish to NCAA Tournament appearances in 1989 and 1990, and the NIT finals in 1992. Additionally, McCaffery met his wife, Margaret, when they were assistant coaches for the men's and women's teams at Notre Dame, respectively. Margaret was also a standout on Notre Dame's women's basketball team from 1988-92.

Iowa went 25-13 a year ago, equaling the second most victories in program history, while earning NIT runner-up honors and finishing alone in sixth place in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes won a school-record 18 home games, including all 11 nonconference games a year ago. Iowa loses only one scholarship senior (Eric May), while adding freshman Peter Jok and transfer Jarrod Uthoff. Iowa returns 92 percent of the team's scoring, including its top five scorers: senior Roy Devyn Marble (15.0), junior Aaron White (12.8), sophomore Mike Gesell (8.7), senior Melsahn Basabe (6.8), and senior Zach McCabe (5.7). The Hawkeyes also return their top five rebounders: White (6.2), Basabe (5.1), sophomore Adam Woodbury (4.8), Marble (4.0), and McCabe (3.7). Marble and White were third team All-Big Ten honorees this past season.

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey will welcome back four starters from a squad that posted a school-record seventh consecutive 20-win season en route to a 25-10 mark a year ago. The 25 victories match the second-most victories for an Irish team during Brey's 13-year tenure. Senior guards Jerian Grant, a second team all-league honoree, and Eric Atkins lead the Irish backcourt. Grant averaged a team-leading 13.3 points and 5.5 assists, while Atkins averaged 11.2 points and 5.5 assists in 2013. Junior swingman Pat Connaughton, a two-year starter, averaged 8.9 points and 4.7 rebounds, while fifth-year senior Tom Knight also returns after averaging 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in his first season in the Notre Dame starting rotation.

The ACC and Big Ten split last year's Challenge with six wins each, but the Big Ten retained possession of the Commissioners Cup. Before last season's tie, the Big Ten won the previous three challenges (2009-11). Seven of the 14 challenges have been decided by a single game.

Seven of the 12 match-ups are first time Challenge games. Three are repeat games from a year ago (Florida State-Minnesota; Wisconsin-Virginia; Georgia Tech-Illinois).

The 2013-14 Challenge schedule is listed below:

Tuesday, Dec. 3

Notre Dame at Iowa
Florida State at Minnesota
Illinois at Georgia Tech
Indiana at Syracuse
Michigan at Duke
Penn State at Pittsburgh

Wednesday, Dec. 4

Boston College at Purdue
Maryland at Ohio State
Miami at Nebraska
North Carolina at Michigan State
Northwestern at NC State
Wisconsin at Virginia

Game times and TV networks are to be determined.


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