Why it would fit:Maryland is geographically contiguous with the Big Ten. It boasts one of the nation’s largest cities in Baltimore plus takes half the suburbs in the Washington D.C. market. It has the second-largest enrollment of the prospective candidates. Maryland has won the NCAA championship in men’s and women’s basketball and competed in the Orange Bowl in the last decade.
Why it wouldn’t: Maryland is an ACC charter member and has a steep tradition with several conference schools. It would forfeit relationships with Southern schools like Virginia, North Carolina and Clemson lasting decades. The ACC expanded five years ago and just announced a massive TV rights deal with ESPN in mid-May.
Final verdict: Maryland offers a prime location with new markets, which fits the Big Ten’s demographic criteria. It provides a solid academic profile and athletically it could compete in the Big Ten. While it doesn’t offer a national splash, it does have substance. Like Rutgers, Maryland might not be the top candidate in a one-school addition, but it could make the cut for three or five schools. I think Maryland is the real dark horse in the expansion race.
YouTube moment: “One Shining Moment” from the 2002 NCAA basketball tournament featuring Maryland’s win against Indiana.