No. 11 Maryland will not skate through Saturday’s regular-season finale against visiting Colgate — the Terps must win to cement a seed and a home game in the first round of the NCAA tournament. They will also have another motivation: history.
The Raiders have ended Maryland’s regular season with losses in 2011 and 2012, forcing the Terps to open the NCAA tournament on the road. It did not terribly damage them as they advanced to the national title game in both years, but coach John Tillman said he has not had to remind Maryland (9-3) too much about its recent history with Colgate.
“We’ve talked about it, but I think the guys are well aware of it,” he said Tuesday. “I think it’s like anything else that when a team has gotten the best of you, you hope that just as a competitive person that would be something … [where] hopefully we get another chance to play at a higher level and get a win. But that goes not only for Colgate but for anybody we would’ve played in the last few years. Whether you beat them or you don’t beat them, I think like any competitive person, when you haven’t been successful, maybe there is a little added motivation, knowing that this team has gotten the best of you. But we haven’t lost to bad teams. Those teams were good teams, and they were just flat-out better than us those days. So I think there’s a certain amount of pride in all of us. It doesn’t matter who you play. If someone beat you the last time, I think most competitive people would say, ‘I’d prefer not to lose to them again.’ But you’ve got to go out and do it, and Colgate’s proven that they’ve been a tough out for anybody over the last couple of years.”
The Raiders (8-6) should have a lot of confidence about venturing to College Park, but coach Mike Murphy said that is not something he is banking on.
“Maryland’s a different team than they were last year, and we’re different from what we were last year,” he said Tuesday. “I think it gives our guys a little confidence that they can compete with teams in the [Atlantic Coast Conference] because a lot of those guys were here for those wins. But I know that we’re going down to College Park and we’re going to play a very, very hungry Maryland team that has lost two of its last three and had a barnburner game with Yale. So I think the main focus for us right now is making sure that this Colgate team is ready for a very, very talented Maryland team.”