With the Maryland men’s basketball team riding a seven-game winning streak and atop the Big Ten standings heading into Saturday’s showdown at Michigan State, Coach Mark Turgeon’s detractors are quieter than they have been at most other points during his nine-season tenure. Lowly Nebraska nearly gave them reason to pipe up with an upset bid in College Park on Tuesday, but Jalen “Stix” Smith rescued the No. 9 Terps with a last-second block of Cornhuskers guard Cam Mack’s layup attempt in a 72-70 win.

Looking ahead to March Madness, Maryland has put itself in position to earn a No. 2 seed, which would be the Terps’ highest seed since they won the national title under Gary Williams as a No. 1 in 2002. Still, with Maryland advancing as far as the Sweet 16 only once in its four previous trips to the NCAA tournament under Turgeon, there’s a portion of the fan base that expects another early exit this year.

“I hate those people,” ESPN “SportsCenter” host and Maryland alum Scott Van Pelt told the Team 980′s Kevin Sheehan on Friday when asked what he would say to Maryland fans who still don’t believe in this team.

“Here’s what I’d tell them: I hate you. I hate you because you’re impossible. If being ranked in the top 10, and being first in the Big Ten — with a potential lottery pick in Stix, with a four-year local player in [Anthony] Cowan, who’s climbing the ranks of all-time Maryland scorers and winners — if this isn’t enough for you, if you’re still looking in the rearview at the past and complaining about that now, then you’re hopeless. You’re hopeless, and I don’t care how you feel or what you think’s going to happen — I don’t — because I can’t stand you. Because as a fan, if you don’t enjoy the moments, there’s no point, and if the past is going to ruin your present, then I don’t understand what the point of any of it is."

Van Pelt, who was in the building for Maryland’s comeback win at Illinois on Feb. 7, likened a pessimistic fan to someone who used to be broke coming into some money and then complaining about how broke he used to be.

“Could it end that first weekend?” Van Pelt said of Maryland’s prospects in the NCAA tournament. “Sure, it could, and then when it happens, then you get to be able to, what, be happy and point out that, ‘I told you,’ or [say], ‘Well, they probably won’t win the next weekend’? I just don’t get that. I don’t get that mentality. It permeates things, and it just poisons your enjoyment of things. … I really, really detest that mentality because it’s a state of mind of negativity and it’s not productive. It just isn’t.”

If Maryland fizzles in the NCAA tournament, Van Pelt said he would understand the frustration from fans. But he also said “seasons are to be enjoyed” and that this season’s team has provided reason for hope.

“You’re in the conversation to win your league, which by the way is the best league in America,” Van Pelt said. “You’re in the top 10, and you know you’re going to be a top-whatever seed. That’s what you should hope to be every year. That’s what they are right now. Enjoy it.”

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