Maryland's move to the Big Ten was a no brainer

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Maryland's move to the Big Ten was a no brainer

In the end it was a no-brainer.

When the University of Maryland Board of Regents voted overwhelmingly Monday morning to accept the official invitation to join the Big Ten conference, there were plenty of opinions. Most of the naysayers were traditionalists that pointed to 60 years of tradition as a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and traditional rivalry games with Duke and North Carolina on the basketball court.

The other side had plenty of ammo as well.

To begin with, a change in conference would mean a migration to schools of a similar kind – large state schools with impressive academic credentials. They also pointed to the fact that alignment with the league would lead to the improvement of the Maryland football team to the point where it can compete in the Big Ten. The basketball programs – already Big Ten ready- would have a made for TV home schedule with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan State and Indiana that would lead to great rivalries in short order.

Oh, yeah, there was also money involved. Actually it wasn’t just money... it was serious, serious cash.

If it were only about the expected increase in television revenues from the ACC to the Big Ten (approximately $8-10 million per year) then the University President Dr. Wallace Loh and the board may have thought twice about pulling this trigger.

Then add to that millions and millions of dollars the school will receive as part of a consortium arrangement with Big Ten schools to share federal research dollars. It’s the kind of money that will insure the stability of both the university and the athletic department.

Maryland officials must have felt like they had just hit the Powerball.

If you’re on the Board of Regents – whose primary job is to oversee the operations and fiscal well-being of the University system – and you ended up voting against this then you probably would have some explaining to do.

I’m like a lot of Maryland sports fans and I can get wistful over memories of great Terrapin plays and games. One of the things I love most about Maryland fans is the way they mark the times of their lives around seminal Terp games (e.g. “my daughter was born the day after Steve Blake stole the ball from J. Williams just before halftime at Cole Field House).

I get that. And I get the angst around the move. For many fans the relationship with the ACC amounted to a first love or romance.

The problem is that the ACC that we all knew and loved changed irrevocably in 2003 with the addition of Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami. The move was done solely for football purposes and completely changed the way the ACC schedule worked on the basketball side of things. Gone was the simply perfect model of playing every team home and away each year. Because of the numbers, the league had little choice but to introduce an unbalanced schedule that eliminated most home and homes.

With Pitt, Syracuse, and Notre Dame all joining the ACC in the coming years those “rivalry” games would be fewer and further between. Maryland, for instance, could only count on seeing Duke and North Carolina at the Comcast Center every two years.

So much for romance.

Dr. Loh and Director of Athletics Kevin Anderson inherited a fiscal albatross from their predecessors that they could never have foreseen. That they have acted so quickly and so forcefully to secure the financial future of both the university and the athletic department is laudable and they deserve credit.

Loh was particularly forceful during the press conference and spoke passionately about the University’s financial status, the pain of having to cut several sports in the past year to trim costs in the athletic department and, most importantly, about his vision for the school. At one point he said his job was to chart the future and not be overwhelmed by it.

You would be hard-pressed to find a lot of University presidents with a similar kind of courage.

At one point a student reporter at the press conference asked why the process had not been conducted in a more open, public forum. The answer to that, of course, is that an open forum would lead to a complete paralysis of the process. The Board had been tasked to study this kind of opportunity with diligence and the future of the University in mind and acted accordingly.

Progress can be uncomfortable some times and institutions like a large public university can be particularly change averse. Ultimately the opportunities for real progress rarely come in such a compelling and obvious package as the one that was presented to the Board of Regents.

They were right to take it and the University will be far better for it in the long run.

Perrantes, No. 19 Virginia roll past Clemson

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Perrantes, No. 19 Virginia roll past Clemson

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Virginia's London Perrantes thought about getting to Clemson a little early. After all, who doesn't love a parade?

"I thought that was cool," Perrantes said of the Clemson's football national championship parade and ceremony Saturday morning. "I wish I got to witness that. It was crazy packed coming in here."

Perrantes put on a show of his own in the game, making four 3-pointers and scoring a season-high 25 points to lead the 19th-ranked Cavaliers to a 77-73 victory against the Tigers.

It was the senior's second straight game with 20-plus points after coach Tony Bennett encouraged him to shoot more often.

"He kind of gave me that confidence to go out and play," Perrantes said.

The Cavaliers (13-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) shot 58 percent from the field in their second straight win since dropping two in a row to Pittsburgh and Florida State. Marial Shayok tied his career high with 17 points, and Isaiah Wilkins finished with eight points and 13 rebounds.

Virginia blew a nine-point lead in the second half, but Perrantes stepped up for the Cavaliers down the stretch. After Clemson tied it at 70 on Jaron Blossomgame's three-point play with 2:18 left, Perrantes made his fourth 3-pointer to put Virginia back in front.

Perrantes pushed the lead to 75-70 with another basket with 41 seconds left, prompting many of the fans to head for the exits.

"When we need him the most he shows up," Shayok said. "When he's rolling, everybody's rolling."

It was a festive day at Clemson (11-6, 1-4), with the school holding a big party to celebrate its first national championship in football in 35 years. But the basketball team dropped its fourth straight game since winning nine in a row.

Blossomgame led the Tigers with 22 points, and Avry Holmes and Gabe DeVoe each scored 15.

"This is our fourth league game that's come down to the last minute and we've only won one," said Brad Brownell, Clemson's seventh-year coach. "That's frustrating for all of us."

The Cavaliers shot 10 for 18 on 3-pointers, just the second time this season they finished with double-digit baskets from behind the arc.

Virginia Tech's rally falls short at home against No. 20 Notre Dame

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Virginia Tech's rally falls short at home against No. 20 Notre Dame

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Steve Vasturia and No. 20 Notre Dame are making a habit of playing in close games, and winning them.

The Fighting Irish did it again Saturday, rebounding after blowing all of a 19-point lead to beat Virginia Tech 76-71.

"When you win those type of games, you like those moments and you're not afraid to step up," Vasturia said.

Vasturia scored 20 points and Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson added 14 each for the Fighting Irish (16-2, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won their five conference games by a total of 23 points.

More impressively, three of the wins have come on the road.

"That's five games in a row now in league play where we kind of believe when it gets down the stretch, we've been able to get defensive stops -- we did it again tonight -- and then make big-time, fearless offensive plays," Irish coach Mike Brey said.

"I think now it's a psychological advantage because we've closed out so many games, we kind of believe."

Virginia Tech had a 15-game home winning streak snapped.

The Hokies (13-4, 2-3) trailed almost throughout, but went ahead 67-66 on a three-point play by Chris Clarke with 1:52 to play. But Farrell scored on a drive and the Hokies turned it over on consecutive possessions and the Irish converted, rebuilding their lead.

The outcome won't be one to dwell on, Clarke said.

"Just let it sting for a little bit so you learn from it and get ready for the next game or the next practice."

Clark had 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Allen added 16 points and Justin Robinson 14 for the Hokies.

Notre Dame made 14 of its first 20 shots, scoring 17 straight at one point and building a 33-14 lead.