A different take on the Challenge

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One last note on the ACC/Big Ten Challenge before moving onto more significant matters for the rest of the season.

The question came up again, as it always does at this time of year, whether the event means anything in the big picture . This as the ACC was on the verge of winning ACC/Big Ten Challenge X, which turned out to be the Xth victory for the conference.

“I used to think it did,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said.

If we know anything from this event, it’s that the bottom of the ACC is usually better than the bottom of the Big Ten. That’s why Clemson and Florida State (bottom-half-of-the-league teams for much of the last decade) have winning records in this thing, while Penn State and Northwestern have losing records.

But I thought it would be more interesting to see how the leagues have done against opponents that actually went on to make the NCAA tournament, which leads to this chart:

SeasonACCBig Ten
1999-003-11-2
2000-012-33-3
2001-022-21-3
2002-031-31-3
2003-043-01-5
2004-052-21-4
2005-062-42-1
2006-074-21-6
2007-082-20-3
Total21-20 
11-30

Obviously, there’s some crossover in those games. And obviously, it’s only a handful of early games.

“I’m not going to declare anything because of who wins,” Williams said.

Still, there is a disparity, considering the ACC has broken even against the teams that eventually rose to the top of the Big Ten, while the midwestern league struggled in all but two years against what turned out to be the ACC’s elite.

And after yet another victory in the event – and the losses by Big Ten favorites Michigan State and Purdue – it might turn out to be the same again this year.

Patrick Stevens

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