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Illinois basketball coach Brad Underwood says 2022 is 'last year' of ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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Monmouth Illinois Basketball

Illinois' coach Brad Underwood looks on during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Monmouth, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Michael Allio)

Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball head coach Brad Underwood briefly talked about the upcoming ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Friday night during his postgame interview on the Illinois radio broadcast after his team beat Lindenwood University 92-59. 

Underwood said during the postgame interview that 2022 will be the final year of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Illinois' next game is against Syracuse in the 2022 ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday in Champaign, Illinois. 

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim is known for running a zone defense, so Illinois radio broadcaster Brian Barnhart asked Underwood about his zone offense.

"I think we're going to see 40 minutes of zone (defense)," Underwood said. "It's the last year of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge — it's contractually. Obviously, we got a great Syracuse team coming in here, and obviously, Jim is one of the outstanding coaches and been doing it for a long time. So they'll play zone and they got a couple dynamite guards and they're going to have a big guy in the middle that will try to block everything and we'll have to execute, move the ball. I expect a very challenging game before we go to Maryland on Friday." 

There had been speculation about the ACC/Big Ten Challenge concluding after 2022 as a result of the Big Ten Conference's new media rights agreement, which was announced in August. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge, which started in 1999, has been broadcast on ESPN networks, and ESPN does not have television rights to the Big Ten Conference starting with the 2023-24 college basketball season. 

The ACC, Big Ten Conference, ESPN and Illinois athletics were contacted about Underwood's comment that 2022 is the end of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and none of the entities responded.

Illinois, 5-1 overall after Friday's win, is scheduled to play Syracuse at 6:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The Illini are ranked No. 16 in The Associated Press poll. 

Erik Hall is the digital sports editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. You can find him on Twitter @HallErik.

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