The Maryland basketball team faces a stiff test Sunday at Verizon Center in local rival George Mason, the second game of the annual BB&T Classic doubleheader. But if Coach Mark Turgeon has his druthers, this might be Maryland’s last year in the event.
“I’ll sit down with everybody concerned, see if it’s best thing for us,” Turgeon said. “A lot of it will determine what kind of crowd we have tomorrow. I don’t want to return the game. It’s hard to get someone to come play us. I want to do what’s best for Maryland basketball. We’ll cross that bridge once the season’s over.”
Maryland will make its 17th appearance in the BB&T Classic. Last year, the Terrapins defeated Notre Dame, 78-71. With Syracuse and Pittsburgh joining the ACC next season for the Terps’ last go-around before defecting to the Big Ten, the conference will switch to 18 league games instead of 16, leaving Turgeon less flexibility for scheduling if Maryland plays in the BB&T Classic and then has to return a game down the road.
“I don’t like it. I want to dictate my games,” Turgeon said. “That’s just me. Got the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, then this game. I’m looking at other things. I enjoyed the game up in Brooklyn [the season opener against Kentucky], even though we lost, that was fun, a great environment. If this environment won’t give us that, I can get it somewhere else. We’ll see.”
With a capacity of more than 20,000, the Verizon Center holds slightly more fans than the Comcast Center’s 17,950. BB&T Classic attendance has dropped over recent years, but Turgeon cracked that the Terps might actually feel at home Sunday.
“We play in a big arena that’s been fairly empty,” he said.
Regardless of attendance and future implications, Turgeon knows that Sunday’s game means plenty for a Terps team faced with an otherwise weak nonconference schedule that Turgeon intentionally drew up long ago. George Mason is 5-2.
“This is a huge game for us, a great RPI game, a team that’s going to win 20-plus games,” Turgeon said. “A good resume builder to play a game like this.”