Maryland-Georgetown: Two teams that plain don’t play each other much

Correction: An earlier version of this column incorrectly referred to Georgetown University’s former men’s basketball coach as John Thompson II. His name is John Thompson Jr. This version has been corrected.

I don’t like the chances of a men’s college basketball regular season series being worked out between Maryland and Georgetown. They haven’t scheduled a regular season game since 1993, and now Maryland AD Kevin Anderson has declared that the Terrapins will no longer play the Hoyas in any sport until the schools find a way for the men’s basketball teams to play again.

It may sound like a playground threat — “I’m going to take my ball and go home” — but I don’t blame the oft-criticized Anderson for pushing hard for a meeting. Maryland could use the revenue of a yearly Terps-Hoyas game, and as Mark Turgeon builds a winning program in College Park, the relative quality of the two teams will once again become comparable. (As things stand today, a game between the two would be a mismatch.)

The problem, as is often the case, is one of timing. The ACC will have an 18-game league schedule that might start next season; the Big East already has its teams playing 18 league games. That, plus the usual early-season and holiday tournament commitments, doesn’t leave a lot of space on any team’s dance card.

Of course, John Thompson Jr. and Gary Williams could have worked this out years ago — before the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and a lot of other obligations cluttered schedules. But they didn’t, and now it may be too late.

The nonconference part of any team’s schedule needs two elements: games against lesser competition, to bolster your record, and games against good teams, to bolster your résumécome tournament selection time.

A Georgetown vs. Maryland series — once it gets rolling, and that shouldn’t take long; Turgeon already has worked minor miracles with a ragtag roster this season — would certainly fulfill that second category.

But saving a spot every year with the league scheduling requirements would apparently be too onerous. And yes, it’s another blessing of conference realignment for which we can give thanks.

The ACC has assigned Pitt as Maryland’s conference rival, but a school is allowed to have more than one. It’s remarkable that these schools — who are separated by only a few miles, who play in highly regarded basketball conferences (the ACC has fallen a bit but these things go in cycles), who pride themselves on their respective basketball programs, who play in an area that produces a lot of talented players — do not play each other.

In men’s hoops, that is. In women’s hoops, Maryland and Georgetown had developed a nice little rivalry that is now, of course, over. And that’s a shame.

Anderson has little choice in calling off all meetings — he had one card to play, and he played it — and he has the support of his women’s coach, Brenda Frese. But as usual, when there are problems with the big sports, it’s often the smaller ones that suffer (witness what Maryland’s football failures hath wrought to its overall sports program).

There is one hope that obstacles will be overcome and bridges will be built and that is Turgeon and John Thompson III. If the two of them can get in a room sometime this summer — between recruiting, camps and sleeping — and work out an arrangement, then it will happen.

If they can’t, then Maryland vs. Georgetown will remain little more than a tantalizing potential pairing on the NCAA bracket every now and then. Heck, we get to see cicadas more often.

For Tracee Hamilton’s previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/
hamilton
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