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The Fowl Shot: Get to know the delicious new promotion tormenting Maryland basketball opposing foul shooters

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Nothing beats Maryland basketball and free chicken, does it?

Shooting foul shots into The Wall at Xfinity Center is no easy proposition.
Shooting foul shots into The Wall at Xfinity Center is no easy proposition.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

When St. Francis forward Ifeanyi Umezurike stood at the free-throw line late in the team's Dec. 4 game at Maryland, it didn't matter that his team was trailing by 30 points. It didn't matter that it was only the Nigerian freshman's sixth college game. In that moment, only one thing mattered: free chicken.

Maryland men's basketball brought in the Chick-fil-A "Fowl Shot" promotion before this season. The rules are simple: if an opposing player misses two straight free throws on a single trip to the foul line in the final five minutes of regulation or overtime, everyone in attendance is entitled to a free chicken sandwich. One needs only to present his or her ticket upon ordering. The Chick-fil-A in the Stamp Student Union does not participate in this promotion, as it is not a franchised location, but most outlets in the area do.

With 3:51 left in the game and a free chicken sandwich on the line (in a couple different ways), fans made whatever gestures and noises they thought necessary to help their chances. And when Umezurike missed both shots, pandemonium ensued.

Before coming to College Park, the promotion had long been a staple at Washington Wizards home games. Zach Lowe called it "perhaps the best free food promotion in the NBA." ESPN's Adam Rubin analyzed it in hilariously painstaking detail. The Verizon Center also runs the promotion at Mystics and Georgetown games, while the Utah Jazz are the only other NBA team that has it (for now).

In 12 Maryland home games thus far, Umezurike is the only player to fulfill the fans' wishes. Because the promotion only kicks in with 5 minutes left (the NBA teams have it for the entire fourth quarter), and because college players who miss the front end of a 1-and-1 don't get to shoot another, there haven't been many close calls, either. Marshall's Jon Elmore and Ohio State's David Bell have missed the first free throw and made the second, but in both of those games, Terps fans already knew they were at least going home with a win.

The poster child of this promotion has to be Northwestern's Joey van Zegeren. The Wildcats' senior center, a 40 percent foul shooter in his career, was sent to the line twice in overtime on Jan. 19. Both times, he missed the first. Both times, he made the second, robbing 17,144 fans of a chicken sandwich.

Unfortunately, none of the teams on the Terps' remaining home schedule feature a similar high-volume, low-success foul shooter like JVZ. However, as a public service, here are the players most likely to stand between you and free chicken as the regular season winds down.

1. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin, 64 percent. The freshman forward has the second-most attempts on the team behind Nigel Hayes (75 percent). He didn't go to the line in the team's first meeting with the Terps, but he was a frequent visitor against Michigan State (8-13) and Penn State (10-15), and is 0-5 in his last two games.

2. Mike Thorne Jr., Illinois, 60 percent. The transfer center has only played 8 games this season due to injury, but his return to the floor on Jan. 19 against Indiana cost him a chance at a medical redshirt. He hasn't played since, and it's unclear if he will be healthy enough to play against Maryland on Mar. 3. But if he suits up, remember that he attempts nearly 7 free throws per game, so there's a reasonable chance he misses two when it counts.

3. Isaac Haas, Purdue, 69 percent. Despite averaging just 15 minutes per game, the sophomore center leads the Boilermakers with 98 free-throw attempts. He's made 68 of them. If he's not on the floor in the final five minutes, surely senior A.J. Hammons (72.9 percent) will be.

Of course, it doesn't have to be one of these guys. It can be a backup not used to playing in crunch time. It can be a Bowie State player overwhelmed by the big stage. Theoretically, it could even be the robot on Michigan who goes by the alias "Duncan Robinson." But no matter what happens the rest of this season, it looks as though Fowl Shots are here to stay, and that's a win for anyone that loves loud noises, glorious puns or, of course, free chicken.

Anyway, as Maryland plays Purdue on Saturday, Terps fans interested in fried chicken should hope for Damonte Dodd and Robert Carter Jr. to hack Haas and Hammons as the game wears on. A good meal could depend on it.