Tom Crean is pumped.
Indiana drew North Carolina for its Big Ten/ACC Challenge opponent and the fact that the game is set for Assembly Hall has Crean even more animated than usual.
“It's a big, big deal,” he said via a video released on his Twitter account.
How big? With Kentucky off the schedule, the Hoosiers were looking for a prime-time home opponent to duplicate the eardrum-bursting Assembly Hall atmosphere that accompanied last season's UK victory.
North Carolina qualifies. Like Indiana, the Tar Heels have won five national titles. They are a perennial national championship contender.
"Everybody's excited about it,” Crean said. “It will be one of the prominent feature games of the entire non-conference season.
"Games like that do not happen without the fan support we get. Our team is getting better. There's no doubt about that. Our recruiting is picking up all the time, but our fan support has been phenomenal in making that happen."
The Hoosiers return six of their top eight players from a 27-9 team that reached the Sweet 16. They also bring in a top-five recruiting class. That's enough to put them at No. 1 in most early preseason polls.
North Carolina lost sophomores Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall, and junior John Henson, to the NBA draft. It returns freshman James McAdoo from a 32-6 team that lost to Kansas in the Elite Eight.
The Tar Heels have a strong recruiting class that includes Marcus Paige, Joel James, J.P. Tokoto and Brice Johnson.
IU and North Carolina are tied 1-1 in Challenge games. The Hoosiers won 79-66 at North Carolina in 2001. The Tar Heels won 70-63 at Assembly Hall in 2004.
Overall Indiana leads the series 7-5. That includes a 63-50 win for the 1981 national championship.
North Carolina will come in tested given it plays in the Maui Invitational a week earlier. That field includes Texas, Marquette, USC and Illinois.
Purdue coach Matt Painter didn't release a video over the Boilers' ACC opponent, Clemson, but they did send out a release.
Purdue returns eight letter winners from a 22-13 team that went 1-1 in the NCAA tourney. It is bringing in a top-20 recruiting class.
Clemson is coached by Evansville native Brad Brownell. The Tigers return two starters from a 16-15 team. They will have 10 underclassmen next season.
The Boilers are set to play Clemson on Nov. 28. They've also played twice before in the Challenge. Purdue won 76-64 at Mackey Arena in 2003 and lost 61-58 at Clemson in 2007.
The Boilers have won three straight Challenge games, beating Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Miami. They are 5-6 all-time in Challenge games.
Clemson is 9-4 in the Challenge and has won six of its last eight games in the event.
The Big Ten has won the Challenge three straight times after having lost the previous 10.
The Challenge will include nine teams ranked in ESPN.com's preseason poll, including five in the top 10 with IU, No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 North Carolina State, No. 8 Ohio State and No. 9 Michigan State.
The games will be broadcast on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.