In recent years, part of the hazing of the ACC expansion n00bs was excluding them from the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in their first year in the league. Miami and Virginia Tech sat out the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in 2004, while it was Boston College's turn to sit out the event the following year. It would then follow that with the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse for the 2013-14 season, that both the Panthers and Orange would be forced to sit this first one out.
Not so fast, reports ESPN's Andy Katz.
3. Syracuse and Pitt are expected to be a part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in 2013 when they are members of the ACC. There was initial talk of not including them because they were new -- but that was never going to fly. The ACC hasn't officially decided how it will decide the 12 teams that will go against the 12 from the Big Ten. But one proposal that will be discussed is to pair the top 12 RPI teams from the previous season in the ACC with the 12 Big Ten teams. If that's the case, the bottom teams will get frozen out. But the ACC will need to let those two teams know as soon as the season ends so that they can prepare their non-conference schedule to omit a Big Ten game.
Believe me. I get why ESPN would want to include both the Panthers and Orange in next year's Challenge. This is a made-for-TV event and Syracuse and Pittsburgh join the conference as two of the better hoops programs in the league. Doesn't mean that it makes it any more fair, unless the conference does plan on using RPI to determine the 12 programs that participate. This wouldn't guarantee a spot for Pitt and Syracuse in the Challenge, though both programs participating seems likely.
Wouldn't be the first time that the ACC/Big Ten Challenge has suffered from math. From 1999-2003, two Big Ten programs were excluded annually. In 2004, though both conferences were at an even 11 programs, two Big Ten programs and newcomers Virginia Tech and Miami all sat out the event. In the years that followed where the ACC and Big Ten had an uneven number of programs, Boston College (2005), Wake Forest (2006), Miami (2007), N.C. State (2008), Georgia Tech (2009) and Miami, again (2010) did not participate as the odd man out before Nebraska joined the Big Ten and made it an even dozen for both leagues last season.
Selecting the ACC's Challenge 2013 reps based on RPI does pose the question as to whether Boston College will be left out of the event altogether next season. If the league does decide to select the 12 ACC programs based on RPI, the Eagles' non-conference schedule light on marquee opponents becomes a factor, as does straight Ws and Ls. It does set up the possibility of an exciting quasi-promotion / relegation system for teams at the bottom of the league standings towards the end of the year. But there's still a good chance BC could be left out of next year's Challenge, which would suck.
Of course, Boston College could preempt missing out on next year's Challenge by inking a home-and-home series with Nebraska or Penn State -- the most likely Challenge pairing for the next, say, dozen years.