Just when Mark Turgeon had grown weary of answering questions about the Big Ten, along comes a game with a Big Ten school — Northwestern — to revive the discussion about Maryland's move to its new conference in 2014.
It is just happenstance that the first road game since last week's Big Ten announcement comes in the heart of Big Ten country.
Turgeon, who ceaselessly tries to keep his team focused on matters at hand, didn't seem eager to turn Monday's media availability into a forum on the significance of Maryland's impending departure from the Atlantic Coast Conference after nearly 60 years.
But he couldn't avoid the inevitable questions about the move.
"I just coach where I am, coach my team," Turgeon said. "One good league to another. Travel's going to be a little bit harder. I'm going to make the most of these next two years in the ACC and we'll dive into the Big Ten when the time comes. It's not really dramatic to me that we're playing Northwestern. I just want to win the game."
The Big Ten has three teams ranked among the top five in the nation — Indiana, Ohio State and Michigan. The ACC has one — Duke.
Northwestern is undefeated (6-0) and is surrendering fewer points (53.3) than any Big Ten team. That's typical for the Wildcats, who run a Princeton offense that takes lots of time off the clock.
Turgeon said it's hard to find differences between the Big Ten and the ACC. He said the conferences' teams are varied enough that there are few defining conference traits.
"Each league has teams that play fast, each league has teams that play slow," Turgeon said. "Indiana scored over 100 [Sunday] night [against Ball State]. I know Michigan State really likes to run. Northwestern's a little bit different — they're going to run the Princeton stuff. I think it's all the same. There's guys in our league right now that don't particularly play fast and some that do. It all evens out."
Northwestern poses a special challenge. Coach Bill Carmody once succeeded longtime Princeton coach Pete Carril at the Ivy League school. He is now in his 13th season at Northwestern and brought the Princeton offense to Evanston.
"It's just so different than what other teams run," Maryland guard Logan Aronhalt said of Northwestern's offense. "Coach has really been on us about guarding backdoors."
At least Aronhalt — a senior who transferred here after graduating from Albany — has experience guarding varied offensive sets.
Defending the Princeton offense feels newer to sophomore center Alex Len.
"They've got some crazy plays — a lot of motion and stuff," Len said. "We've got a great scout team. They prepare us real good. It's going to be big pressure on me because I need to help [when perimeter defenders get beat]."
It will be Maryland's first true road game of the season.
Last season, Maryland didn't play a game in an opponent's gym until it traveled to North Carolina State on Jan. 8. Turgeon said then that he wanted the nonconference schedule to be a little less forgiving — allowing his team to experience an away-game atmosphere a bit sooner in the season.
"We were obviously not a very good road team last year," Turgeon said. "We defend better — it's pretty obvious. And we rebound better than last year's team. "
Maryland was 1-8 in road games last season, and 3-3 at neutral sites.
Maryland is outrebounding opponents so far this season by 15.2 per game and is holding teams to a 63.6 points-per-game average.
"So that right there gives you a chance on the road," Turgeon said.
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