Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Auburn/Duke, UNC/Alabama highlight 10 key storylines for the 2024 ACC-SEC Challenge

Alabama v North Carolina
Alabama v North Carolina / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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The matchups for the 2024 ACC/SEC Challenge were announced Wednesday, taking place on back-to-back days on Tuesday, Dec. 3 and Wednesday, Dec. 4.

The ACC-SEC Challenge, which is currently in its second season after replacing the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and the Big 12/SEC Challenge, saw a 7-7 tie in its inaugural tip-off, highlighted by Kentucky walloping Miami (FL), North Carolina prevailing over Tennesee in a high-scoring affair and Arkansas upsetting Duke to conclude the event.

As entertaining as the ACC/SEC Challenge was last year, this year’s event brings no shortage of entertaining and highly intriguing matchups, too. The start to the 2024-25 men’s college basketball season may be five months ahead, but it's never too early to take a look at the 10 key storylines for this year’s ACC-SEC Challenge.

Stanford, SMU left out

Because the new-look ACC will have 18 teams compared to the SEC’s 16 teams, two ACC teams were bound to be left out, however, it was uncertain which teams would be excluded. The ACC-SEC Challenge chose to leave out two new arrivals of the ACC, Stanford and SMU. Similarly, both schools will welcome first-year head coaches, Andy Enfield (SMU) and Kyle Smith (Stanford), which could be a blessing in disguise or a disdainful snub, depending on how their coaches wish to schedule in their first season at the helm.

Auburn at Duke: a must-see matchup

Bruce Pearl’s Auburn Tigers will travel to the not-so-friendly confines of Cameron Indoor in one of the more highly anticipated matchups of this year’s event. Auburn, who enters the 2024-25 season with heightened expectations, will be led by First-Team All-SEC big man Johni Broome, who opted to return to the Plains to exercise his final year of eligibility. Expect the Tigers to be a preseason top 10 to 15 team. 

Duke, on the other hand, will welcome the nation’s best recruiting class, according to 24/7 Sports, highlighted by the No. 1 recruit Cooper Flagg. Tyrese Proctor and Caleb Foster return and the Blue Devils will also welcome a sneaky-good transfer portal class. Both Auburn and Duke have Final Four aspirations. It’s a must-see matchup.