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Why Maryland is a difficult place to play, according to ESPN analyst Jay Bilas

Why Maryland is a difficult place to play, according to ESPN analyst Jay Bilas

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas knows all about the intensity Maryland basketball fans bring. The former Duke Blue Devil experienced it first-hand when his team would travel to College Park for games inside Cole Field House. 

The Xfinity Center replaced Cole Field House in 2002, just months after the Terps won the NCAA championship. But Bilas knows the short move across campus didn't take away any of the fanfare. 

"This has always been a really passionate fan base. It is a difficult place to play, but it's a fun place to play," Bilas told reporters Friday. "If you've come here and play well and can withstand what you're going to be called and hear and all that stuff, you know you can handle [anything]."

Bilas and the rest of ESPN's "College GameDay" crew will be in College Park on Saturday for the show that broadcasts from 11 a.m. to noon in front of what's sure to be a spirited audience. The live show serves as the precursor for No. 9 Maryland's matchup with No. 24 Michigan State at 8 p.m. 

Maryland has used its passionate home base to go 15-0 inside the Xfinity Center this season. Since the Terps joined the Big Ten conference in the 2014-15 season, they have gone 92-13 at home. 

This is the second time in two weeks that GameDay features the Maryland vs. Michigan State matchup. The Terps traveled to East Lansing, Michigan, and beat the Spartans on Feb. 15 behind a 14-0 run, keyed by three consecutive 3-pointers from Anthony Cowan, to erase a late seven-point deficit for a 67-60 win. 

College GameDay's appearance in College Park is the first since 2005, the first year of the show's existence. On that day 15 years ago, Maryland beat then-No. 7 Duke 99-92 in overtime. 

"I've been telling everyone, [if] we bring College GameDay to College Park, it will be absolutely epic," ESPN commentator Seth Greenberg said in a Twitter video. "Because one thing about these Maryland fans, they are passionate about their Terps."

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Sean Payton looks back on his short stint as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland

Sean Payton looks back on his short stint as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland

Before he was a Super Bowl coach, before he was even an NFL coach, Saints coach Sean Payton was a Maryland Terrapin coach.

For a few months in the offseason at least. 

Maryland coach Mike Locksley hosted Payton on "Late Night With Locks" and remembered that when starting in College Park for the first time, he was told his job depended on what Payton picked - running backs or receivers. Payton, then-Terps head coach Ron Vanderlinden knew at the time, was an up-and-coming star in the coaching ranks who had coached Marshall Faulk at San Diego State and had spent the year before as the quarterbacks coach at Illinois. (Click here to see the press release from when he was hired). 

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"When I got hired at Maryland in '97," Locksley remembered, "I was told it would be either running backs or receivers. It all depends what Sean Payton wants to do. Sean Payton was a coach here from December through Signing Day of '97 and then went out to the Combine and got offered a quality control job with the Eagles and as your moving truck was coming to College Park to drop off a bunch of other stuff ... the moving truck just kept going."

Payton remembered the tumultuous time for the Terps as well. He came to College Park with former Illinois coach Lou Tepper, who was hired as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. "Coach Vanderlinden's trying to put his staff together, it's December, we're recruiting," he said. "And you've got to pick up your stuff on the fly, ready ready. And so you're hustling and one month Coach Tep decides he wanted to wait. And look, that was a big loss for (Vanderlinden) because Tep was like a father to him ... but Lou felt more comfortable going back. So that was change number one."

Three weeks later, another assistant, Terry Malone left for another job to be closer to his father, who was sick at the time.

"So (Vanderlinden) was good and came into the staff meeting and said 'anybody else who wants to get out of here now?'" Payton remembered. "And we're all looking around saying 'this isn't going to affect us.' And three days later I'm like man I'm that person. I was third person out of the bank. You don't want to be the third person out of the bank."

Payton left the Terps for a quality control job with the Eagles, not even coaching a game for the Terps. But he did leave a bit of a legacy, according to Locksley.

In his short time with the Terps, Locksley said, Payton played a role in getting Maryland great Lamont Jordan to play at College Park. 

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Maryland football hoping for good news with Flowers DT Tommy Akingbesote's announcement

Maryland football hoping for good news with Flowers DT Tommy Akingbesote's announcement

Maryland's future defense is in the running for a huge boost on Wednesday.

Flowers High School defensive tackle Tommy Akingbesote posted on Twitter on Tuesday that he will be announcing his commitment at 6 P.M. on Wednesday. According to 247sports.com, the race is between the Terps and Virginia Tech - though a myriad of other schools are also listed as possibilities.

Terps coach Mike Locksley has already had two 4-star defensive linemen commit: Demeioun Robinson from Quince Orchard is ranked third in the state and 58th in the country overall. And another Flowers player, Marcus Bradley, who is ranked 9th in the state and No. 186 in the country is heading to College Park.

 Akingbesote is ranked 16th in the state according to 247Sports.com's rankings.

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