The University of Maryland men's basketball program released its 2021-22 Big Ten schedule on Wednesday. Immediately, there's one major thing that sticks out, and it has nothing to do with a game that's actually scheduled.
Maryland only plays defending Big Ten regular-season champion Michigan once this season, a game that will take place in Ann Arbor on Jan. 18. That means that the Wolverines get to avoid a flight to College Park this upcoming winter.
That is an absolute shame. Here's why...
For starters, let's refresh your memory about the last time these two programs met. It was a Thursday afternoon in March, a neutral site matchup in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament.
Maryland started off hot, as the eighth-seeded Terps jumped out to a double-digit lead over No. 1 Michigan in the first half. But the Wolverines would close the gap towards the end of the frame and enter the break with a two-point lead.
What happened next was chaotic. Before a timeout in the second half, Michigan head coach Juwan Howard had to be held back by his players and staff after attempting to charge at Terps coach Mark Turgeon. Both coaches had differentiating stories after the game and never resolved their issue.
This is just the beginning of it all. Enter Hunter Dickinson, Michigan's star big man who opted to return to Michigan for his sophomore season.
Dickinson, a product of DeMatha Catholic, played his high school ball in Hyattsville, Md., fewer than three miles away from College Park. With Maryland's lack of a big man last season, many wondered why Dickinson committed to Michigan over his hometown Terps.
According to Dickinson, it was that Maryland never really recruited him, even though they were one of the first major schools to offer the 7-footer.
“Yeah, I did feel a little disrespected when I wasn't recruited by them," Dickinson said in December. "I’m really glad with where I am right now. I’m 100 percent saying this is the spot for me, I’m happy to be here at Michigan.”
Sure, it's possible Dickinson could have felt that Maryland needed to make a bigger effort to keep him home. But to say that they didn't recruit him is simply false.
Last year, during the three clashes between Michigan and Maryland, Dickinson got into it with multiple Terps players, particularly guard Darryl Morsell. He wasn't shy about trash talking to the Maryland bench, either.
But there were no crowds at last year's games due to the pandemic, so Dickinson could mostly get away with whatever he wanted. Had there been a full Xfinity Center, Dickinson would have played in arguably one of the toughest atmosphere of his collegiate career. Now, we'll never get to see how that would have played out.
Besides the multiple juicy storylines that would lead up to Maryland-Michigan in Xfinity Center, it's a shame they don't play at both venues this year for just on-court reasons alone.
Michigan, who earned one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, has reloaded with the nation's second-best recruiting class. Maryland has added multiple impact players, too, from multiple avenues: high school, grad transfers and the normal transfer portal.
Both Michigan and Maryland are expected to be top-15 teams in college basketball next season. Those two, along with Purdue and Ohio State, are expected to compete for the conference title. Never count out Michigan State or Illinois, either.
In what's become the deepest conference in college basketball, Michigan has a significant advantage over Maryland by having the lone contest between the two schools in Ann Arbor. The Xfinity Center has one of the best atmospheres in college basketball and Maryland has been exceptional there since moving to the Big Ten.
For Michigan, being able to go the whole year without a trip to College Park is not only a great break for them, but a shame for both the Terps and college basketball fans as a whole.