The Maryland Terrapins will open their 1997-98 basketball season when they meet South Carolina in the first game of the BCA Classic doubleheader Nov. 14 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
But in what could be a more interesting matchup during the season, Maryland is looking into the possibility of playing the team that ended South Carolina's 1996-97 season with a first-round upset in the NCAA tournament -- Coppin State.
Maryland coach Gary Williams said yesterday that he is considering playing the Eagles for the first time in eight years, possibly at Baltimore Arena. No formal discussions have yet taken place.
"During the NCAA tournament, [Coppin State coach] Fang Mitchell said that Maryland and Georgetown wouldn't play them," said Williams. "We're looking at a couple of dates right now."
The schools have met only once, during Williams' first year at Maryland. The Eagles beat the Terrapins, 70-63, at Cole Field House. The rivalry was never renewed.
But with both teams coming off NCAA tournament appearances -- Maryland lost in the opening round to the College of Charleston, and Coppin State lost to Texas in the second round -- the interest in the area's two best Division I teams playing each other has heightened.
"If there's interest on their part, I'm willing to listen," said Mitchell, who is also Coppin State's athletic director. "All that is is a telephone call from Gary."
Mitchell said he has one spot remaining on next season's already difficult schedule, which includes road games at defending national champion Arizona, as well as at Wisconsin and Texas Christian.
The Eagles will also play in a tournament at Iowa State and against Alabama in a tournament in Oklahoma. Whether Maryland is added to that schedule may depend on the financial arrangements.
"I'll go anywhere for the money. If I have to, I'll go up the street," said Mitchell, whose low-budget program pays the bills with the guarantees it receives from those road games. "When I put the number in the calculator, it's going to have to add up."
According to those familiar with negotiations at Maryland, visiting teams receive between $20,000 and $25,000 to play at Cole Field House. An athletic department official said yesterday that a game at the arena would be treated as a Maryland home game.
Aside from the season-opener against the Gamecocks, the Terrapins are scheduled to meet Kansas in the opening round of the Franklin National Bank Classic at MCI Arena in early December and play at Missouri later in the season.