Last August, when people started accessing all the changes to the ACC with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, one thing that dawned on people was that the ACC would have 14 basketball programs in 2013 and the Big Ten just 12. The uneven number of programs in the ACC vis a vis the Big Ten presents a scheduling challenge for next fall's ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
In previous seasons, the hazing of the new kids included sitting out the first ACC/Big Ten Challenge as a new member of the conference. Miami and Virginia Tech sat it out in 2004, while Boston College sat out the following season's Challenge. It would then follow that when Syracuse and Pittsburgh join the conference this fall, that the Orange and Panthers would sit this one out, too. Right?
Wrong. One problem with that logic. Syracuse is kinda good at basketball. Pittsburgh too. You didn't expect the WWL to simply leave out the Orange and Panthers now, did you?
Again, back in August, ESPN's Andy Katz reported that Syracuse and Pittsburgh would, in fact, be under consideration to play in next year's Challenge. While nothing has been finalized, one proposal as to how to determine the participants was to use the RPI to determine the ACC's 12 participants.
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.
Since that time, the Big Ten went ahead and picked off Maryland, but not before the ACC hooked up with Jim Delany's high school prom queen, Notre Dame. Louisville was added to replace Maryland.
So short of telling Maryland that they won't be participating in next year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge -- conflict of interest? need more scheduling room to complete the home-and-home with Maryland-Eastern Shore? South Carolina State? -- this sets up a two-team relegation system in the ACC/Big East this season. If RPI is in fact used to determine the conference's 12 participants, the two teams that finish at the bottom of the standings will be left out of next year's event.
Every Tuesday, from now until the end of the season, we'll check in on the 2013 ACC/Big Ten Challenge promotion & relegation league table. Can the Eagles stave off relegation for the right to host the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 2013 ACC/Big Ten Challenge?
RPI Rankings from NCAA.com as of Jan. 14. Previous ranking in parentheses -- next three games
1 (1). Duke Blue Devils (15-1) -- Georgia Tech, @ Miami, Maryland
5 (8). Miami Hurricanes (12-3) -- @ Boston College, Duke, Florida State
12 (15). N.C. State Wolfpack (14-2) -- @ Maryland, Clemson, @ Wake Forest
13 (14). Syracuse Orange (16-1) -- @ Louisville, Cincinnati, @ Villanova
43 (42). North Carolina Tar Heels (11-5) -- Maryland, Georgia Tech, @ N.C. State
65 (72). Florida St. Seminoles (10-6) -- @ Virginia, Clemson, @ Miami
69 (71). Pittsburgh Panthers (13-4) -- @ Villanova, Connecticut, @ Providence
90 (67). Maryland Terrapins (13-3) -- N.C. State, @ North Carolina, Boston College
101 (140). Boston College Eagles (9-7) -- Miami, @ Maryland, @ Virginia
113 (158). Wake Forest Demon Deacons (9-6) -- @ Clemson, @ Virginia Tech, N.C. State
130 (144). Virginia Tech Hokies (10-6) -- Wake Forest, Virginia, @ Clemson
153 (123). Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-5) -- @ Duke, @ North Carolina, Wake Forest
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2013 ACC/Big Ten Challenge Promotion & Relegation Game Of The Week: Wake Forest @ Virginia Tech, Saturday, January 19