A year from now, Maryland will be a member of the Big Ten and less than a month from playing its first conference game.
Given that, the Terrapins’ game against Ohio State tonight in Value City Arena, part of the 15th ACC-Big Ten Challenge, will be “kind of a welcome game for them,” OSU guard Shannon Scott said yesterday.
The Atlantic Coast Conference hopes it’s a rude welcome, apparently, considering the don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-in-the-rear parting gift it gave them. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon told media members in College Park, Md., yesterday that he was expecting a home game in the series this year after playing at Northwestern last year.
While recruiting last spring, Turgeon said as much to Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon, whose school joined the ACC this season. Dixon, however, predicted Turgeon would be traveling for a second year in a row, just as Pitt had to in the Big East-SEC Challenge last season after the school announced it was leaving the Big East for the ACC.
“He said, ‘You’re going on the road and you don’t know it,’ ” Turgeon said, “and literally 10 minutes later the phone rang and said I was going on the road. I was (peeved).”
And not only will the Terps be playing away from home, they also will have to face the Buckeyes (6-0), a team ranked No. 5 nationally and returning all but two players from its Elite Eight team last season.
So what kind of welcome will it be?
“We want to win the game by as much as we can,” Scott said, “but we’re not going to take them lightly or anything like that. We know they’re coming here to beat us, so we’re going to be ready for that.”
Maryland (5-2) is unranked but lost to now-No. 12 Connecticut by one point in its opener on Nov. 8 in Brooklyn, N.Y. It won the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands two weeks ago with victories over Marist, Northern Iowa and Providence. It won its most recent game by 27 points over Morgan State, a team Ohio State defeated by 39 in its opener.
“Maryland is very similar to who we are in their style and how they play and the things they do,” said assistant coach Dave Dickerson, who played for the Terrapins and was an assistant coach there for nine years, during which Maryland went to the Final Four two years in a row and won the NCAA championship in 2002.
He called them “probably the best nine years of my life … but my ties are to Ohio State now. Hopefully it’s just another game, and hopefully we can win.”
Ohio State had a four-game winning streak in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge end last year at Duke.The ACC won the series in each of the first 10 years. The Big Ten won the next three, and they split 6-6 last year.
Scott, the son of former North Carolina All-American Charlie Scott, said that, growing up in Georgia, “I never thought the Big Ten could beat the ACC. But (then) it started happening a lot more. I really don’t see it as a challenge for us anymore.”