The Washington Post

Virginia’s Tony Bennett will return to Wisconsin for ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Virginia’s Tony Bennett got his start in college coaching working under his father, Dick, at Wisconsin more than a decade ago. Next season, Bennett will finally have a homecoming of sorts.

The Cavaliers will travel to Madison, Wis., on Nov. 28 to play the Badgers as part of the 2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Virginia announced Monday. It will be the first time Tony Bennett has faced Wisconsin since leaving Coach Bo Ryan’s staff in 2003 to join his father at Washington State.

The two programs haven’t met since Wisconsin defeated the Cavaliers in 1999 as part of the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. A year later, the Badgers made a run to the Final Four during Tony Bennett’s first season as an assistant coach.

But Wisconsin has enjoyed continued success under Ryan, qualifying for the NCAA tournament every year since he took over the program in 2001. Last season, Wisconsin finished with a 26-10 record and lost to Syracuse by one point in the Sweet 16.

The Cavaliers have a 7-5 record during the 13 years the ACC/Big Ten Challenge has been in place. Last year, Virginia beat Michigan at John Paul Jones Arena as part of the event, a marquee nonconference victory that helped secure the Cavaliers’ first NCAA tournament berth since 2007.

There could, however, be some tension between Virginia and Wisconsin. Last month, Ryan caused a media firestorm when he tried to ban freshman Jared Uthoff from transferring to 26 different schools, including the entire ACC. The move was prompted, in part, by Virginia’s staff contacting Wisconsin to request permission to speak with Uthoff.

After winning the ACC/Big Ten Challenge 10 years in a row when the idea was first hatched for the 1999 season, the ACC has seen the Big Ten take the past three competitions, including an 8-4 advantage last season.

Mark Giannotto is a Montgomery County native who covers high school sports for The Washington Post. He previously covered Virginia and Virginia Tech football for five years.


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