Yesterday's leftovers: ACC/Big Ten Challenge tidbits

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Wasn’t online a lot after around noon yesterday, so there wasn’t much of a chance to post this until this morning: Maryland’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge game against Michigan in December is being consigned to ESPNU(navailable).

Of course, some fans on one of Maryland’s message boards has already chatted about it plenty, and there’s enough discussion suggesting this is another harbinger the second apocalypse of Maryland basketball is upon us.

It got me thinking … since Maryland-Michigan is one of the leftover games (i.e. one of the games that doesn’t make it onto either ESPN or ESPN2), just what were the leftover games since this lopsided (and honestly, increasingly dull) “event” began back in 1999? What were the records of the teams involved in those games the previous year? And did any of the teams in the leftover games ever make the NCAA tournament?

This research seems like it would take forever. It’ll really take about 15 minutes. So here we go, with the previous year’s record in parentheses

* 1999: Clemson (20-15) at Penn State (13-14)

* 2000: Minnesota (12-16) at Florida State (12-17)

* 2001: Clemson (12-19) at Penn State (21-12)

* 2002: None.

ESPN moved a game to Mondays starting in this season, so all nine games were on one of the two easily accessible national networks rather than regionally broadcast (as in the past) or placed on the U (as in the future).

* 2003: None.

* 2004: None.

* 2005: Clemson (16-16) at Penn State (7-23); Northwestern (15-16) at Virginia (14-15)

* 2006: Penn State (15-15) at Georgia Tech (11-17); Iowa (25-9) at Virginia Tech (14-16)

* 2007: Northwestern (13-18) at Virginia (21-11); Boston College (21-12) at Michigan (22-13)

* 2008: Iowa (13-19) at Boston College (14-17); Michigan (10-22) at Maryland (19-15)

No Big Ten participant ever went on to reach the NCAA tournament. Both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech were at-large selections in March 2007 after playing in a leftover game a few months earlier.

Penn State (2001), Iowa (2006), Virginia (2007) and Boston College (2007) all played in a leftover game the season after making the NCAA tournament.

But if you look at this closely, 10 of the 11 leftover games have featured at least one team with a losing record the previous season. That seems to be as critical a factor as anything, and since you have to throw Northwestern a bone every now and then (imagine how all 12 of Northwestern’s fans felt when 21 of the Wildcats’ 29 games were shuttled off to the not-then-readily-available Big Ten Network), other teams in the Big Ten have to take a turn away from the bright lights.

Granted, Michigan was ESPNU fodder last year, as well. But here’s thinking that despite the Terrapins’ far-from-lofty prospects for this season, this is one instance that had more to do with the recent performance of an opponent rather than a shot at what Maryland has or has not done over the last four seasons.

Patrick Stevens

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