Mark Turgeon and his Terrapins postseason-less season fared pretty ‘meh’ when it came to attendance last season. There wasn’t a ton of excitement because of a rough start out of the gate, and neither Duke nor UNC came to Comcast, so the Terps had that working against them. Well, the NCAA released its attendance rankings for the 2013-2014 college basketball season, and the evidence seems to back up that ‘meh’ claim.
While they failed to list road and neutral site games for the Terrapins, that’s because the school fell out of the Top 25 for the first time in a long time when they landed at #26. The Terrapins played 16 home games for a grand total of 200,913 and an average of 12,557; they are wedged between #25 North Carolina State and narrowly beating out #27 San Diego State. Back in 2013, Maryland was just in the top 25 with 21 home games and 262,264 for an average of 12,489.
As far as the Big Ten is concerned, Maryland gets trounced:
6.) Indiana – 18 GP – 312,453 Attendance – 17,359 Average
7.) Wisconsin – 17 GP – 290,773 Attendance – 17,104 Average
8.) Ohio State – 20 GP – 329,481 Attendance – 16,474 Average
13.) Nebraska – 16 GP – 246,702 Attendance – 15,419 Average
15.) Illinois – 16 GP – 243,931 Attendance – 15,246 Average
17.) Iowa – 17 GP – 254,588 Attendance – 14,976 Average
18.) Michigan State – 16 GP – 236,752 Attendance – 14,797 Average
23.) Purdue – 17 GP – 216,553 Attendance – 12,738 Average
24.) Michigan – 15 GP – 190,477 Attendance – 12,698 Average
26.) Maryland – 16 GP – 200,913 Attendance – 12,557 Average
For the Terrapins fan base (and the program as a whole), that ought to be a sobering reality check about where things stand. Comcast Center is a supposed to be a mecca of basketball, and to see it ranked 26th in attendance is disappointing. The Terrapins have the second biggest arena in the Big Ten, yet they’re finishing 10th of 14 teams in the conference. Normally these numbers are commensurate with arena capacity, and while that mostly holds true, Maryland is the lone exception.
Back when Comcast was completed and opened up in 2002, the Terrapins were a powerhouse of a program. Continually ranked under the Gary Williams era and fully recovered from the Len Bias tragedy, the arena only made sense to build given that they had just won a national championship. With a capacity of 17,950, it ranks up there among the best in all of college hoops.
Well, a lot has changed in the 12 years since, and now Maryland is not and cannot be considered a power with this kind of attendance. Part of the reason why Cole Field House was and is still home to a record number of #1 upsets is because of how small it was. No A/C and a packed (albeit on a tinier scale) arena of raucous fans gave Maryland an advantage rare in college hoops. Even against smaller competition Cole could get filled up because it wasn’t massive. But Comcast? For it to be effective and feared, it has to be filled. And it isn’t being filled, not by a long shot.
The fan base wants to believe that the Terps are a top ten program, but sometimes numbers just don’t lie. In the Big Ten, sure they are, but nationally? Come on. It’s probably time to change expectations until further notice when San Diego State is almost edging you out and Nebraska/Iowa have you beat.