Alex Len and Mason Plumlee won’t tip off at center court for tonight’s men’s basketball game against Duke until about 6 p.m.—but that didn’t stop some fans from lining up outside Comcast Center almost three days in advance.
Tonight's game could be the last time the Terps host the Blue Devils at home as the teams have only one game against each other next year when Pittsburgh and Syracuse join the ACC. Many have speculated that the ACC will punish this university for leaving for the Big Ten by making them play their one scheduled game against the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Sophomores Alexander Jonesi and Dylan French said they staked out a spot outside the arena’s student gate at 10 p.m. Wednesday night, 68 hours before the opening tip.
French, a sophomore enrolled in letters and sciences, said the prospect of not being first was unacceptable to his group.
“Honestly, we were actually planning on getting here Thursday morning slash afternoon, and then we heard that someone was trying to get here on Wednesday night, so we decided to fix that problem and get here on Wednesday night,” he said.
Whether they needed to be there so early or not, he said, was irrelevant.
“We showed up and there was no one here, but we decided ‘Why not? We might as well stay here.’”
By 9:40 a.m. today, the line had grown to several thousand students.
Jonesi, an environmental education and policy major, said beating the masses offers plenty of worthwhile advantages.
“It’s really nice to be able to be in the front and pretty much choose where we want to go,” he said.
About 100 students deep in the line was Katie Kreps, a freshman business major who snagged her space in line by showing up at 8:45 a.m. yesterday.
“We wanted front-row seats for Duke if possible. I love basketball,” she said. “Basketball’s my favorite sport in the whole wide world. I wish I could be on the men’s basketball team — let’s be honest. So it was my goal to be as close as possible and to have the best experience.”
Kreps, like many others in the line, was holding a spot for her friends.
“I was the shift-holder,” she said.
In Kreps’s group was Molly Carlson, a freshman elementary education major.
For Carlson, who got in the line after Kreps held down her place for hours, tonight’s game is something of a culmination.
“I kind of grew up a Maryland fan, so hating Duke was kind of a part of my childhood,” she said. “So being a freshman and actually getting to come to the game is really fun.”
In the past, Terps victories over Duke in College Park have led to widespread rioting and raucous, wild behavior.
If the Terps pull off the upset, could it happen again tonight?
“Well, maybe the whole town won’t burn, but I’m sure there’ll be some things that are on fire,” French said. “Not of my doing, but I’m sure some people might get a little rowdy.”