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Long Wait For First Road Test

As was mentioned in this morning's print edition story, Maryland will become the final Division 1 team in the country to play a true road game when the Terps take on Miami in a few hours. Every other ACC team has played at least three games on an opponent's home court.

In fact, there are only three programs among the six major conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC) that have played only one true road game so far this season -- Florida, Alabama and Baylor.

Only five schools from such conferences made it to 2009 without playing a true road game -- Missouri, Louisiana State, Louisville, Alabama and Maryland.

"It's just the way it worked out," said Gary Williams, who explained that after playing two home games in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in previous seasons, he figured his team would be on the road for the event this year. Instead, the Terps hosted Michigan.

Williams said he believed playing the likes of Georgetown, Michigan State and Gonzaga was challenging enough -- even if those games took place on a neutral site. "Those are tough games no matter where they're played," he said.

"We've played good teams," Williams continued. "I think that's the important thing. We have played teams at Miami's level before, and I think that's the most important thing."

What do you all think? Is playing tough opponents on a neutral court just as good of preparation for a team as facing those same opponents on their respective home courts?

More specifically, do you think Maryland would have been better served at least to have had one true road game under its belt before entering conference play?

By Steve Yanda  |  January 14, 2009; 4:03 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Terps Falter Late In 62-60 Loss To Miami

Comments

The issue with not playing any road games is it kills you in the RPI. If money wasn't a factor the RPI maximizing coach of a big time program would play all his easy non conference competition on the road. Even if you slipped up and lost a game each road win is basically worth 3 home wins in the RPI. Then you get the SOS boost on the back side in conference play. If you ever wonder why a middle of the road MAC team has such a gaudy RPI, this is the reason. They spend the better portion of the fall going to big schools and getting the crap beat out of them. boosts the SOS and doesnt hurt much in the loss column. If they pick up a win or two along the way it more than outweighs the cost of the losses. Home losses work in the same way, 3 times as bad as a road loss. So when MD drops a game to Morgan State (and for the RPI it wouldn't matter if it was Morgan State or Duke or the Boston Cletics) its 3 times as bad ass if they had lost AT morgan state. Why not go get the road win boost?

Posted by: Lee26 | January 14, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

As a follow up to the above analysis, I think the reliance on RPI/changes in tourney selection process (i.e. more mid-majors), have also played a role in MD's absence from the NCAA's, as some of the teams that missed out the last couple of years, definitely would have gotten in in the 90's. Not an excuse, just a factor to consider.

Posted by: island1 | January 14, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I think for many reasons, like the ones stated above, the Terps should indeed play a few road games before ACC start. They should schedule at least one serious challenge. UNC plays Kentucky and Duke plays Georgetown--and most other big conference schools play a home and away series with another big conference school. No reason why Maryland shouldn't also schedule a home/away series with a program like Syracuse or Auburn or Cincinnat (just throwing names out there). Can't keep padding the schedule with these "soft" home games--recent history proves those aren't guaranteed wins. As the posters above noted, a road game (even if it results in a loss) against a top 25 is more valuable than a win (or loss) against a mid major at home.

Posted by: Trippey | January 14, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

well thats the "beauty" of the RPI. A road win is a road win. Doesn't matter who you play. MD should be scheduling home and homes with American and Towson and beating the snot out of them. Then their final record would basically have 4 more wins on it in the RPIs eyes and have the exact same SOS. It's pretty crazy when you think about it...

Posted by: Lee26 | January 14, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Gary's right. We should have played a road game in the ACC/Big Ten challenge this year, but that's not up to us. Would we even be having this conversation had we played Michigan in Ann Arbor? Nope.

Personally I'm glad we haven't played any road games yet, our record is a reflection of home cookin.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 14, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I do find it interesting that the Terps NEVER play at AU or Towson or any of the smaller, more local programs. Not sure what the deal is with that. As a DC person, I personally would love to go see Maryland at Bender Arena. Maybe it's just too much money for AU to forgo, since apparantly the small schools get a big chunk of change for playing at the bigger schools. Not sure how that works...

Posted by: Trippey | January 14, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

It's a final in Coral Gables: Miami 62, Maryland 60.

Up 17 points in the 2nd half, Maryland couldn't close the deal. McClinton caught fire--and Maryland simply couldn't defend him.

Posted by: Terptwin | January 14, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Smaller schools make much more money playing at Comcast Center than Maryland would playing on their home courts. So, naturally, teams are more willing to be sacrificial lambs to these bigger schools because in the long run they get more of the payoff. The downside of this is that they spend the entire 1st half of the season on the road (kind of like the anti-Terps). As far as AU or Towson are concerned, their arenas aren't half the size of Comcast Center, which also draws TV coverage for them on CSN or other cable outlets.
That said, I think not having a road test before the start of the ACC portion of the schedule will hurt the Terps in the long run. Yes, playing against Michigan, Gonzaga, and Michigan State will help boost the tournament resume, but it's still not the same as playing them on their home court, where you can get a taste of what life on the road in the ACC will be like.
Here's a suggestion: play either VCU or Richmond here in Richmond. This will serve four purposes: 1) they will play against teams from up and coming conferences (The CAA and A-10 respectively); 2) they will be worthy competition (VCU beat MD last year); 3) the crowds, especially at VCU's Siegel Center, will be hearty enough to show in full force; and 4) they'll be close to my home so I can go see the game ;<)

Posted by: ecglotfelty | January 14, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable. Terps were up 17 at one point in the 2nd half.

Posted by: dcsportsfan13 | January 14, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

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