BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Maryland basketball coach Kevin Willard hopes is looking to test Charles Barkley’s theory that Alabama and Auburn fans are rooting for each other.
The first-year head coach is well-aware that there will be plenty of Crimson Tide fans when the two teams square off tomorrow at 8:40 p.m. While he’s hoping for an Auburn victory during the first half of the day he pleaded with Tiger fans to stay around for the nightcap.
“Stick around,” Willard said on Friday. “It should be a good game. It’s at (8:40) at night, I mean what else is there to do? You might as well watch a good game and chill out. I’m pretty sure the NCAA sells beer, I’m not sure. It’s a great place to be and it’ll be a great game.”
The task that lies ahead of the Terrapins is a daunting one.
It’ll be taking on an Alabama team that ranks in the top 20 in offensive efficiency, is the No. 3 ranked defense in the country and sports the No. 5 tempo in the country, according to KenPom.
Maryland is used to playing top-end teams, especially in tough environments as it picked up three ranked wins this season against Purdue, Ohio State and Indiana. While it hopes for a friendlier environment when the two teams tip off tomorrow, both Don Carey and Patrick Emilien are ready for the boos if Auburn decides to vacate Legacy Arena.
I’ve been hearing that Auburn fans are going to be in the building 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 that’s on the bench, managers, the whole staff. As long as we come together, I think that’s enough alone, but we’ll appreciate Auburn if they root for us as well.”
Emilien added: “Yeah, if anybody wants to come support Maryland basketball, we’re here for it. We could use all the help we can get.”