Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why The ACC Beat The Big Ten Again

Another ACC-Big Ten Challenge is in the books, and for the eighth time in as many attempts, the ACC has come out on top in the basketball showdown. On four of those occasions, the ACC wound up with a one-game advantage, but this time it was a decisive 8-3 edge. Why did the Big Ten come up short again? Here are some reasons.

Air Force: Wednesday night, the Falcons pummeled Wake Forest - the one ACC team not participating in the Challenge - by 36 points. Clearly, the Big Ten needs to add some service academies to take down the ACC.

Hillary Clinton: The Big Ten is headquartered in Park Ridge, Illinois, hometown of the New York senator. The conference followed her example, since she doesn’t play well in the South.

National Hockey League: The Challenge began on Monday, when visitors from Michigan saw a “Home of the Stanley Cup Champions” sign in Raleigh. Confusion immediately ensued.

Big Ben: “Big Ten” sounds like “Big Ben,” and both Ben Roethlisberger and Ben Wallace had a tough week.

Football Conference Championship: Shortly after a 1-2 matchup between Ohio State and Michigan, Big Ten schools were amused to hear that the ACC football championship game will match Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. Periodic fits of giggling interrupted many Big Ten game plans.

Abbreviations: It’s cool for college students to talk in shorthand. The Atlantic Coast Conference is usually abbreviated, but you never hear anyone call the Big Ten Conference the BTC.

James Delany: The Big Ten commissioner is a North Carolina alumnus, so he still has a soft spot for his old conference.

2004-05 Michigan State: The Spartans lost to Duke in the Challenge but later eliminated the Blue Devils from the Sweet 16. Counting on NCAA tournament rematches, many Big Ten teams thought it would be best to lose now.

Network Programming: ABC and CBS clearly favor the ACC. It’s Boston Legal and CSI: Miami, not Bloomington Legal and CSI: West Lafayette.

The Eyes Don’t Have It: Both the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Ohio State Buckeyes lost their games. Other body parts were undefeated, as the North Carolina Tar Heels triumphed.

Cocktails: The Big Ten fared well in games involving alcoholic drinks, as the Purdue Boilermakers edged Virginia, and Northwestern topped the Miami Hurricanes. Unfortunately, there were nine other matchups. Next year, expect Big Ten press releases to refer to the Duke Blue Hawaiians and the Virginia Tech Fighting Martinis.

Dry Floors: In 2001, a Challenge game between Michigan State and Virginia was cancelled due to condensation on the Richmond Coliseum court. UVA was leading in the second half when the game was called. This year, no courts were too wet for play, so every Big Ten team had to play the entire second half.

Williams: The ACC is the league of the Williams, and Roy and Gary both won their Challenge games. So Minnesota was doomed as it took on Clemson in Williams Arena.

Florida-UCLA: The Big Ten is 2-0 in Challenge games featuring a rematch of the previous spring’s national championship game (Maryland-Indiana in 2002, North Carolina-Illinois in 2005). No such opportunity arose this time, since the Gators and Bruins refused to switch conferences for this event.

Quirky Trophies: Big Ten football showdowns often have a kitschy prize at stake, such as The Old Oaken Bucket or The Little Brown Jug. The conference would take the Challenge more seriously if an item from Cracker Barrel went to the winner.