Maryland's Addition to the Big Ten Makes it a Powerhouse Basketball Conference

By Chris Katje

Today it was announced that the University of Maryland will be leaving the ACC to join the Big Ten Conference. The move is the latest in major universities attempt to scramble into “power conferences”. Large conferences come with more money from lucrative sponsorships and media rights.

Maryland brings basketball success to the Big Ten. The school won the 2002 National Championship, beating Big Ten school Indiana. Maryland has reached the Final Four twice. The school also appeared in five Elite Eights and 13 Sweet 16s. Since 1958, the team reached 24 NCAA Tournaments. Under head coach Gary Williams, Maryland went to eleven straight NCAA tournaments from 1994 to 2004. The school’s most recent NCAA Tournament berth was as a #4 seed in 2010.

Individual players from Maryland have won trophies, won awards and been drafted into the NBA. Joe Smith, who is the school’s only Player of the Year, was taken first overall in the NBA Draft. John Lucas was also the first overall pick and went on to play over 900 games in the NBA. Maryland has had six All-Americans and six ACC Player of the Years.

Maryland was one of the founding schools of the ACC back in 1953. The school won the ACC Conference Tournament in 1931, 1958, 1984 and 2004. Maryland also finished as the regular season ACC champs six times, including 2002 when it was granted a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Maryland will pay a $50 million exit fee to the ACC for its bolt to the Big Ten Conference. The school has been under financial woes for several years, and current president Wallace D. Loh told reporters today that the move is one for the future. Maryland cut seven sports from its athletic department this year and now may be able to bring them back with increased revenue sharing from the Big Ten Conference.

The Maryland Terrrapins play their basketball home games at the Comcast Center. The arena, which opened in 2002, seats 17,950 people. The arena opened the season after Maryland’s NCAA Tournament Championship. In the first season, the Comcast Center averaged 17,566 people, good for fifth place in the nation. The Championship brought increased fans to Maryland and helped the school rank in the top ten for attendance every year from 2004 to 2010. The team’s impressive 141-33 home record probably helped attendance as well.

The Big Ten Conference has an exciting 2012 ahead of it in College Basketball. In the AP Top 25 Preseason Poll, five teams from the Big Ten appeared in the Top 25. Three of the teams appeared in the Top Ten. Here are the teams that were on the list:

The Big Ten last won the National Championship in 2000, when the Michigan State Spartans won the game. The last appearance by a Big Ten school in the final game was 2009, which saw the Spartans lose to the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Big Ten ranks fourth in all time NCAA Championship wins with 10. The conference won in 1940, 1941, 1953, 1960, 1976, 1979, 1981, 1987, 1989 and 2000. Since 1976, the conference has won six championships and had seven runner-ups.

With the addition of Maryland and newly approved Rutgers, the Big Ten will have the following teams in 2015:

The Big Ten Network, launched in 2007, televises all conference basketball games during the season. The addition of Maryland will hopefully boost the channel’s network presence in key markets like Washington D.C. and Baltimore. The channel is a joint venture between the conference and News Corporation’s Fox Sports. The channel has grown to over 40 million households and will likely increase its customer base with two new geographical regions.

Ultimately the deal comes down to money, both on Maryland’s side, and on the Big Ten’s side. In the meantime, Big Ten fans can expect their already strong basketball conference to get even better in two years. While everyone is focusing on two weaker teams joining the Big Ten’s power football conference, it seems relevant to talk about how much stronger the Big Ten could be in basketball. Look for the Big Ten to be a force to reckon with.


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