The Big Ten was not supposed to keep its winning streak going over the Atlantic Coast Conference this season in their annual early December matchup. What could bode well for the league's overall power ranking -- and perhaps not so well for those Maryland fans who thought the No. 2 Terps were going to have it easy this winter -- is that the Big Ten improved to 5-0-2 against the ACC over the past seven years.
"We're supposed to be this down league, and they're supposed to be so great and we won (8-6 overall) and we kept our streak alive," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Thursday. "You know Bo Ryan would figure it out. It was a huge win for our league (Wisconsin over Syracuse).
"Iowa came back and gutted it out [over Florida State in overtime], Michian won on the road [at North Carolina State]. Penn State won on the road [at Boston College] for us. It was really good to see Michigan State gutted it out and came back and won at home [over Louisville]. It was really a great night for the Big Ten."
Here are some thoughts on the outcomes of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in terms of how it relates to Maryland:
BIGGEST STATEMENT: Though it shouldn't come as a shock that Purdue beat Pittsburgh, given that the Boilermakers are ranked 11th, a 13-point win in the "Oakland Zoo" is still impressive. Purdue is one of the few teams in the Big Ten that can match -- or even surpass -- the Terps when it comes to frontcourt depth, size and talent. And it showed as A.J. Hammons came off the bench to score 24 points to keep Purdue (7-0) among the unbeaten. The second biggest statement is the fact that even some of the league's expected bottom-feeders, such as the Nittany Lions, won. And aside from No. 7 Duke's 20-point blowout of Indiana, the biggest margin of defeat was Maryland's eight-point loss at No. 9 North Carolina.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Following a few seasons of not living up to expectations, Indiana picked up at Cameron Indoor Stadium where it had left off in Maui, where the Hoosiers were shocked by Wake Forest and later lost to UNLV. Nobody really expected Indiana to beat Duke on its home court, but Tom Crean's team was virtually defenseless. In other words, the Hoosiers didn't play any against the Blue Devils. That end-of-season matchup with the Terps could shape up as Crean's last home game if things don't turn around. Quickly.
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A WIN: North Carolina's Marcus Paige showed Maryland early on that he wasn't going to be affected by missing nearly a month with a broken hand. Paige hit his first shot and setting the tone for a hot-shooting performance by the Tar Heels on their home court. What was even more impressive in Paige's 20-point, five-assist game was the fact that he had the stamina to play 34 minutes. Had the senior guard not shot as well (7-for-12 overall, 4-for-5 from 3-point range) or played a few minutes less, the Terps would still be undefeated and headed for their first No. 1 ranking after Kentucky's loss Thursday at UCLA. The Tar Heels, which dropped eight spots after losing at Northern Iowa without Paige, might deserve to go back to No. 1.
BEST PERFORMANCE IN A LOSS: Not to overstate what Maryland's Rasheed Sulaimon did Tuesday night in Chapel Hill, but the 6-foot-4 shooting guard came in with sort of a dual-basketball citizenship -- a hated rival of two teams, not just one. While Sulaimon has pledged allegiance to the Terps, North Carolina fans tried to remind him that he might still have some Blue Devil blood left in him from his three years at Duke. The only Maryland player booed during introductions -- the others were ignored in some sort of pregame chant-over-the-name routine -- Sulaimon ignored the fact that more than 20,000 booed every time he touched the ball and scored 18 points to keep the Terps in the game until late. While it was not nearly the same setting or circumstance, former Maryland guard Seth Allen was impressive in an overtime loss for Virginia Tech at Northwestern, scoring 25 points and nearly winning the game in regulation with a 70-footer that hit off the back of the rim at the buzzer.