A couple decades ago, it wasn't so rare to see teams step out of conference play and play an intersectional game in February.
Then again, consider the size of leagues. The ACC had eight teams in 1990. The Big East checked in at nine, soon to be 10 with the addition of Miami. The Pac-10 had 10, while the Big Ten was still actually a 10-team league. There was the Big Eight still, and the Southeastern Conference was stuck on 10 teams.
But as leagues became more bloated and conference schedules grew, the chance to squeeze in a random February game waned. (There is also the point that with a new and larger arena, Maryland became more interested in maximizing its most efficient cash cow). And so it is that Maryland is poised to play its first February nonconference game since 2003 on Wednesday when Longwood pays a visit to Comcast Center.
As for others who have played Maryland in a February nonconference game since the ACC expanded to nine teams (and 16 league games) in 1991-92, here's the rundown:
* Feb. 25, 1992: Maryland 84, UNC Greensboro 55. Pretty standard fare nonconference game late in Walt Williams' senior season. It actually ignited a three-game winning streak that included a defeat of then-No. 10 North Carolina. Yes, that was the Terps' first defeat of a top-10 team under Gary Williams.
* Feb. 19, 1994: Maryland 94, Loyola 71. After this thrashing, the Terps would win only once more before Selection Sunday (March 13). No matter, since Joe Smith and Maryland wound up with two victories in the NCAA tournament. This is a moderately notable game since it was the lone season Skip Prosser spent with the Greyhounds, who uncorked three straight wins in the Metro Atlantic tournament the next month.
* Feb. 19, 1995: Maryland 74, Cincinnati 72. Strictly made for Tee-Vee, this game was played in San Antonio. Bizarrely, the Bearcats were in the middle of a two-week break from play in the old Great Midwest. Smith, who would become the top pick in the NBA Draft four months later, had 26 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and four blocks in the victory.
* Feb. 18, 1996: Maryland 91, Missouri 72. At the time, it looked like a moderately useful victory. But a loss at Cole Field House began a season-ending 1-6 slide for the Tigers. Maryland, it should be noted, lost the return trip to Columbia in December 1997.
* Feb. 15, 1997: Massachusetts 78, Maryland 61. Strange but true: The Terps are 2-0 against the Minutemen in the postseason, 0-4 in the regular season. The last of those meetings was this gem at the Worcester Centrum, and the Terps trailed by 13 at the break. It would be Maryland's last game as a top-10 team until Steve Francis' arrival.
* Feb. 28, 1998: Maryland 83, Temple 66. For eight consecutive seasons, Maryland played one of its home games at the Baltimore Arena. This was one of them. Because of a scheduling quirk, some ACC team didn't have a conference game on the final weekend of the season. In this case, it was the the Terps. Laron Profit had 21 points and Rodney Elliott added 20 as Maryland added one more tough game to what was the nation's toughest schedule that season.
* Feb. 13, 2000: Temple 73, Maryland 65. Known to Temple fans as the day the Apollo was renamed the Liacouras Center. Known to Maryland fans as the only February loss the Terps suffered in 2000. It also happened to come four days after Maryland toppled Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
* Feb. 24, 2001: Maryland 68, Oklahoma 60. The Juan Dixon Shoes game, Maryland's eventual career leading scorer disposed of his new shoes at halftime, dropped 23 points on the Sooners after the break and helped the Terps win their third straight game since the Valentine's Day Massacre. The Terps would lose to the Sooners in the return trip to Norman the following December.
* Feb. 2, 2003: Maryland 85, Loyola 58. Ryan Randle scored 17 points and Maryland cruised even though the Greyhounds bizarrely outrebounded Maryland 43-34. Oh, one footnote: The Terps' Andre Collins had six points in six minutes against his future team.