By Kyle Morel
Instead of packing for an island vacation, some Terrapins fans packed their bags for a trip to the windy city for the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The Terps defeated Indiana 75-69 last night to advance to the semifinals of their inaugural Big Ten Tournament appearance.
Sophomore Eric Augustino, junior Bryan Farrell and senior Ben Kramer set out on a road trip to Chicago Thursday to see the Terps, who play Michigan State today at 3:30 p.m.
“I think it will be worth it,” said Augustino, a finance major. “Part of the fun is the road trip.”
The students each bought the Big Ten’s special ticket package, where they can attend all Maryland games in the tournament for $20 plus student fees.
Kramer, a government and politics and history major said the trip to the Midwest is especially exciting because he’s been attending Maryland sporting events since he was five years old. His family split season tickets with some of his dad’s friends, and he went to Minneapolis to watch the Terps play in the 2001 Final Four.
“I always wanted to be the raucous student in the rickety chair,” Kramer said of his support for the team as a child.
Augustino said he hasn’t been a Terps fan for quite as long as Kramer, but he always made his way to Xfinity Center for regular season home games since enrolling at this university.
“One of the main reasons I decided to come to Maryland was for the big school passion,” Augustino said. “I’m a big sports guy, and the environment here in College Park is great.”
Kramer said watching the Terps’ success this season after a few down years was a welcome sight.
“It is so great to see students back in the seats,” said Kramer, who was in Cole Field House for several packed Maryland-Duke games in the early 2000s.
Earlier this season, coach Mark Turgeon told reporters that the energized atmosphere of the Xfinity Center helped the Terps secure several important wins this season. And on Wednesday, the Terps student section won the Big Ten Home Court Challenge, a competition that evaluates the impact of a student section while raising money and awareness for charities.
“I think that the school’s seen kind of a big resurgence in state pride and pride in our athletic programs,” said Farrell, an economics major.
Augustino added, “It’s really exciting to see the whole community get together and rally behind the teams.”
The basketball team enters the tournament following a highly successful regular season that included a 26-5 overall record and a 14-4 mark in conference play.
“I certainly did not envision us going to the Big Ten Tournament being ranked No. 8 in the country,” Kramer said. He said at the beginning of the season, he thought the team had some talent but was about a year away from being a major force in college basketball.
The Terps earned the second seed in this weekend’s tournament, and Kramer said he thinks the proximity of other Big Ten schools to Chicago could draw more opposing teams’ fans than Terps fans.
“Unfortunately for Maryland, Chicago is not right around the corner,” Kramer said.
Farrell said he hopes to see a strong Terps base anyway to support the basketball team in the home stretch of its first year in the Big Ten.
“We’ve had such great energy at all the home games,” he said. “I hope the fans turn out for them and can rally them on because they’ve definitely been working for them this year.”