Slightly belated notes on the ACC-B1G Challenge

Ok, so it's only the biggest cross-conference event of the non-conference season (sorry, Dave Gavitt) and I've got nothing. There will be no grand prognostications (maybe some low-effort ones) or emphatic takes in this column. This is just going to be some random factoids, fresh spit in the cuspidor.

The ACC won the first ten Challenges:

This is undoubtedly true, but with a caveat. Five of those wins were by one-game margins. During some of those 1-game margin years, some of the better teams in the B1G were excluded by dint of the B1G having more teams than the ACC. To wit:
Final conference finishes tournament teams in italic
1999: 5th place Indiana, 3rd place OSU.
2000: 4th place Indiana, 3rd place OSU.
2002: 3rd place Michigan, 4th place Purdue.

The ACC increased its membership in 2005 to 12 teams. Omissions by the ACC:
2005: 3rd place Boston College
2006: 11th place Wake Forest
2007: 5th place Miami (FL)
2008: 10th place NC State
2009: 7th place Georgia Tech

Each of these teams had finished in last place the prior year, excepting BC who was a new member in '05. I guess you could say the ACC plays the challenge to win more than the B1G does.

Tough row to hoe

Only one B1G team has a winning record in the ACC-B1G challenge: Purdue, at 9-7. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State (!) and Nebraska (!!) all have .500 records. Maryland was 10-5 as an ACC team, but is winless in four attempts as a B1G member. Through this whole affair, the one constant from the B1G's perspective has been Michigan State as a conference championship contender. Only Michigan State and Wisconsin have made the tournament from the B1G every year the Challenge has been contested. Wisconsin has had a large variety of opponents, often from the historical midtable of the ACC. The Badgers have played ranked opponents 10 times. Michigan State, on the other hand, has played ranked opponents 12 of its 19 appearances, including teams in the top ten a whopping 10 times [1]. MSU has played North Carolina 5 times and Duke 4. No one can accuse the Spartans of ducking a tough matchup.

Lucky Lions

Penn State is not a team you'd generally think of as a lynchpin in the B1G's efforts to win the crown. But they've managed to more than hold up their end of the bargain, compiling a 4-4 record in the Challenge. This suprisingly effective performance must come with a grain of salt, however. Three of those wins came against the some of the worst teams in the recent history of the ACC. Since Kenpom has been keeping records (championship season 2002) the ACC has compiled 209 team-seasons. Here's the rank amongst those seasons of Penn State's four wins in the challenge: (low numbers are bad here)


Penn State missed only one of the 4 worst teams in the KenPom era: The yawning chasm of suck that was the 2011 Wake Forest Demon Deacons, a team which lost by 10 to 300th-ranked Stetson. At home.

Huffin' time


Ahh, much better. Whenever you see that image, you should know that shit's about to get wild up in here. So here's some predictions which will almost certainly not happen, but if they do, you'll know I have a direct line to Cthulhu:

Iowa +8.5

Illinois-Wake under 157.5

Musa Jallow scores in double figures.

Mike Watkins more than 5 blocks.

Indiana covers against Duke.

  1. Yes, this does include the cancelled game in Richmond against UVA. ↩︎