Birmingham, Ala. — Maryland basketball coach Kevin Willard hopes he’s looking to test Charles Barkley’s theory that Alabama and Auburn fans are supporting each other.
The first-year head coach is well aware that there will be plenty of Crimson Tide fans when the two teams meet tomorrow night at 8:40 p.m. Requested by Nightcap to stick around.
“Stay around,” Willard said Friday. “It should be a good game. It’s (8:40) night, I mean what else is there to do? Can relax. I’m pretty sure the NCAA sells beer, I’m not sure. It’s a great place to be and it’s going to be a great game.”
The task before the Terrapins is an uphill task.
It will face an Alabama team that ranks in the top 20 in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom, plays the No. 3 ranked defense in the country and the No. 5 tempo in the country.
Maryland is accustomed to playing top-end teams, especially in tough environments, as it notched three ranked wins against Purdue, Ohio State and Indiana this season. While it anticipates a friendlier atmosphere when the two teams tip off tomorrow, both Don Carey and Patrick Emilian are ready to boon if Auburn decides to vacate Legacy Arena.
I hear Auburn fans are kind of rooting for us, but if they’re rooting for us, we appreciate that,” Carey said. “If not, we look at it like a road game. It’s just about the guys who are on the bench, the manager, the whole staff. As long as we come together, I think that alone is enough, But we’d appreciate Auburn if they root for us too.
Emilian said: “Yeah, if anybody wants to support Maryland basketball, we’re here for it. We’ll use any help we can get.”