After spending 61 years in the Atlantic Coast Conference, where basketball is "King," it is taking some University of Maryland fans a little time to adjust to their first year in Big Ten. However, just five games into conference play, there are plenty of reasons for the opposition to, "Fear the Turtle."
Head coach Mark Turgeon, has the Terps playing at a level that has not been seen in College Park, since 2007. He has guided the Terps, to a 15-2 record thus far, with a ranking of 11th in the USA Today Coaches Poll and 14th in the Associated Press Poll. Meanwhile, they are in a two-way-tie for first place in the Big Ten with Wisconsin.
Chris Knoche serves as the color analyst on the University of Maryland Basketball Network, where he and play-by-play man Johnny Holliday have been working together for 15 years. Prior to joining the Maryland broadcast team, he did Big Ten games for Westwood One radio, so he knows his way around the conference.
In a conversation with BT Powerhouse, Knoche was quick to point out that Terps fans would truly embrace the conference once they "got to experience Big Ten basketball."
"No one likes change and acceptance of something new, can at times, seem to move at a glacial pace. It is easy to think about the good battles with Duke and North Carolina but the Big Ten has a rich basketball history as well," said Knoche." I know that once Maryland fans start to see how passionate and supportive that Big Ten fans are, the respect and the appreciation of their new conference will come."
Knoche says that Terp fans are very smart and that they will quickly realize that playing on the road will mean facing hostile crowds every time Maryland takes the court in a rival Big Ten arena.
"Winning on the road at Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska won't be easy because each one of those buildings will be full and sure to be loud.," stated Knocke. "Meanwhile, Maryland has always had a wonderful home crowd for both the men's and women's team so these road games should only help to amp up the home crowds in College Park."
I agree with Knocke that Maryland is just getting used to their first year as members of the Big Ten and so each game offers a new challenge and hopefully a new reward. Winning on the road at Michigan State and Purdue were nice ways start Big Ten play. Now it is time to "Protect the House," and to hopefully showing their new Big Ten brethren, that making a trip to College Park can be as uncomfortable as possible.
Maryland will have a great opportunity, come Saturday at 4 p.m. at the XFINITY Center to prove they understand and embrace the Big Ten history. In front of a full house, and a national television audience on CBS, they have a chance to beat Michigan State twice in the same season. Maryland fans understand Michigan State history, this season they won on the road in East Lansing, 68-66 in double overtime. A win Saturday in College Park would be just the kind of "we belong here," win the Terps could use and they could start writing their own Big Ten history.