Mar 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Thad Matta reacts against the Wichita State Shockers during the first half of the finals of the West regional of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
The Maryland Terrapins got their wish in drawing a tough match-up for their last hurrah on the ACC-end of the ACC/B1G challenge. The Terrapins are set to take on Ohio State on December 4th at the Jerome Schottenstein Arena in Columbus, Ohio. This matchup marks the first time the turtles have drawn the Buckeyes since the inception of the inter-conference challenge back in 1999. It’s also the first time they have played Ohio State since 1985, when Len Bias was on the roster.
There are obvious, compelling storylines in this matchup, the most cogent being that this is a mild precursor of Maryland vs Ohio State in the Big Ten a year from now (and many years after that.) The move to the Big Ten put Maryland in a division with Ohio State, which means they’re going to be seeing a lot of them in the future in both basketball and football. What better time than the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for Testudo to get under the skin of the Buckeyes than playing an early season spoiler in basketball? It has the makings of a good game, and the potential beginnings of a small rivalry against a good team.
And when we say good, we mean very good. Ohio State was the #6 team in the country to end the season last year, and Thad Matta and Co. are year-after-year a tough draw. Their history speaks for itself: over the past seven years they’ve had one National Championship appearance, two Final Four’s, three Elite Eight’s, and six NCAA tournament showings. Even though they lost superstar Deshaun Thomas, the Buckeyes still have major experience under their belt. They have a point guard in Aaron Craft who, more than likely, is going to give work to whoever the Terrapins throw out against him. Make no mistake, there will be no gimmies in this game.
Then of course, there’s the fact that Gary Williams used to coach there from 1986-1989 before coming to Maryland and bronzing his bust here in the Terrapins Hall of Fame. The Buckeyes assistant coach, Dave Dickerson used to play for the Terrapins, and he coached with Gary Williams for almost a decade in College Park. To say that there’s no history tying these two together wouldn’t be true, but it’s not like we’re playing Duke or something. Still, it’s nice to know that we have some connection to our future opponent.
Finally, there’s the big RPI thing. One of the biggest things that kept the Terrapins out of the NCAA tournament last season was their pre-conference schedule looking softer than a John Scheyer-Koala hybrid (a horrible sight, I know.) With Ohio State, the Terps are going to get an early season tilt that’s going to boost their RPI win-or-lose. I’m not going with the defeatist attitude or anything, but being blown out by 30 to Ohio State still boosts the Terrapins RPI more than, say, a 50-point win against the Savannah School of Art and Design. That’s a beautiful thing, really. An actual win against Ohio State will most certainly get the Terrapins on the national radar early, much moreso than their 20-point victory at Northwestern last year. Swapping those two games out last year may have even mean the Terps made the tournament last year, so this game is more than a big deal.
The downside is that it’s the third time in four years that the Terrapins have to go on the road for the ACC/Big Ten challenge, but you take the victories where you can get them. Maryland was an awful road team last year, but with more experience in that department and year-over-year improvements in that regard during the Mark Turgeon era, keep your hopes high. At least we got the Buckeyes over Penn State
In short, despite the Twitter talk that the Terrapins were going to get shafted out of a good game, that’s simply not true. This is going to be a fantastic match to watch, and the Terrapins are going to test their mettle early on with this road game. Get the rest of the matches below:
Indiana at Syracuse
Michigan at Duke
Notre Dame at Iowa
Florida State at Minnesota
Penn State at Pittsburgh
Illinois at Georgia Tech
North Carolina at Michigan State
Maryland at Ohio State
Miami at Nebraska
Wisconsin at Virginia
Boston College at Purdue
Northwestern at NC State