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Syracuse Basketball: Maryland or Purdue for ACC-Big Ten Challenge?

Mike Waters of Syracuse.com has it narrowed down to two teams.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Waters of Syracuse.com has a theory on who Syracuse will play in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge next season, and it's a good one. Considering factors such as whom the Orange played in previous challenges along with teams who are "owed" (for lack of a better term) a home game, the potential matchups could be Penn State, Northwestern, Purdue or Maryland. Waters believes that for television ratings purposes the Orange are looking at a road game with either Purdue or Maryland:

The ACC and Big Ten try to match up teams according to their expected strength. It not only avoids bad match-ups, but it creates better TV games.

With Syracuse expected to be solid if not very good, depending on Malachi Richardson's NBA decision, one wouldn't expect the Orange to be paired with Penn State or Northwestern, who will struggle to make it out of the bottom half of the Big Ten.

That leaves Purdue and Maryland.

While I think this line of reasoning could absolutely come true, it wouldn't surprise me to see Syracuse play any of those four teams. While strong match ups definitely help drive ratings, the fact that Syracuse has such a large fan base and is spread out throughout the country tells me that they could be matched up with Penn State or Northwestern for the sole reasoning being to raise the profile of games involving "lower tier" teams.

A large and passionate fan base will watch the team regardless of who they're playing, so if there isn't a marquee match up in the cards for Syracuse next winter I think the ACC-Big Ten Challenge organizers would be more than okay with a bottom feeder getting a ratings boost from a final four team from the previous season. On top of that, Syracuse has a lot of traveling fans, so a game at Penn State or Northwestern could sell more tickets as well.

Syracuse lost their game in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge last season to Wisconsin 66-58 in overtime. SU is now 1-2 overall.