So the Big Ten got a bit heavier this season, adding Maryland (formerly of the ACC) and Rutgers (formerly of the AAC). There's been quite a bit of controversy over the additions and a lot of people calling out the Big Ten for adding two teams simply to pad their revenue stream and extend their reach to cover two major markets they previously didn't reach. I guess that shouldn't be a major surprise because everyone's realized by now that collegiate athletics have become a money making machine and the Big Ten has been rolling in the green, especially with the launch and success of the Big Ten Network.
The reality for the basketball side of things is pretty similar to how the football side fared, with the conference getting a solid addition in Maryland and a not-so-great addition from Rutgers (though their football team is light years ahead of their basketball program). While the Terrapins haven't made it to the NCAA Tournament since 2010 in Gary Williams second to last season in College Park, Maryland also hasn't had a losing season since 1993. Not only that, but under Mark Turgeon the program has seen a recent surge in recruiting, ranking 14th in 2012 (per 247Sports), 37th in 2013 and 14th in 2014. By comparison only Ohio State had a better recruiting class in 2014.
So while Maryland has been a bit hit-or-miss the last several seasons, Turgeon has laid the foundation to build a program that can compete heavily within the Big Ten. Don't think they can compete? Look no further than several of their last games with Duke, winning two of the three outings and only dropping the last one by two points in a game where they were in position to win at the end if they could have converted in the closing seconds. All in all Maryland's struggles as of late have been with consistency, knocking off strong programs only to lose games versus lesser opposition, which would fit in very well with a Big Ten conference that was about as unpredictable as you could get last season.
That and their national title in 2002, a more recent championship than any of the current Big Ten programs (Michigan State won two years prior).
Of course then we have Rutgers...oh Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have only made the NCAA Tournament six times, a number fewer than every Big Ten team outside of Northwestern. Not only that but Rutgers hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1991 and hasn't won a tournament game since the 1983. Since joining the Big East (and then the American Athletic Conference for a season) Rutgers has only managed four winning seasons in eighteen years and hasn't finished above .500 since 2006 when Gary Waters was still the coach. Of course they then had to fire to Mike Rice after practice footage showed him abusing players, with the university following that up by hiring a coach that didn't have the college degree he was reported to have obtained.
So now we have Rutgers, a team without any success in over two full decades, two recent coaching blunders and a program that was trending downwards in the American Athletic Conference. Now they're expected to compete in a considerably stronger conference while the program struggles with teams from the Colonial Athletic and trying to not get beat by more than 60 points by Louisville. Seriously, their last game was a 31-92 destruction in the AAC Tournament, somehow playing even worse then when they lost 54-102 to the Cardinals almost a month prior. Even 10-21 Fairleigh Dickinson knocked them off last year and Division II Stillman College hung around for a half earlier in the year.
The end result is we're getting one program capable of competing in the Big Ten and making the NCAA Tournament. Then we're also getting a program that will be "successful" this season if they don't finish last in their new conference.
It was mentioned last year that Maryland was always my favorite ACC program and my liking of the Terps was only second behind my love of the Boilermakers. So while I may be in the minority with my approval of adding Maryland, I've realized a lot of people have relatively vocal opinions on the other side of the debate. So with that being said, who's your favorite addition this season? Maryland? Rutgers? Neither? Let us know in the comments or the poll below.