Note: The purpose of this FanPost is to share stories from the game in Brooklyn, and I hope that others will add their experiences in the comments (especially because people did a lot of other interesting things before, during, and after the game). Maybe this will inspire some fans who couldn't make it out and we'll become a formidable mass travelling fanbase.
I had the game against Kentucky circled in my calendar for quite awhile. When tickets were released on February, I scrambled to find some reception on my phone so I could order a pair. Over the past year, I had following the arena's construction progress on NetsDaily even though I'm not a Nets fan. People were suggesting on this site that there would be a sizeable Maryland contingent at the game, with the strong alumni base in the City/ tri-state area. Still, I didn't know what exactly to expect.
On my mid-day bus from DC to New York, there were at least a dozen people wearing UMD gear. People seemed genuinely excited, admitting that we probably wouldn't win but still holding out hope for a pleasant experience. Upon arriving in NYC, we went our separate ways, and I grabbed a late lunch and took the subway to Brooklyn. Arriving at the station, I had a big grin on my face as I emerged from the "Barclays Center Transit Connection" and saw the beautiful front of the arena. I got there just about as the building's doors were about to open. The arena staff were very friendly and courteous, even if they hadn't exactly figured out the right answers to questions such as "where do I go to leave a ticket at Will Call?"
During the first game of the doubleheader, various Barclays Center staff were milling about and I struck up conversation with a few of them. They seemed pretty excited about a big college game, many of them having never attended one before. One of the Yormark brothers was screaming at someone into his cell about how keeping the front doors open was making the arena very chilly. Digger Phelps and Seth Greenberg walked past my seats to get to their broadcast desk and I exchanged a few words with them. Fans trickled in slowly, with many Kentucky families getting there early.
I went up to the reception event in the 40/40 club, where at least 500 Maryland fans were chatting, demolishing hors d'oeuvre, and causing chaos at the bar where the bartenders were completely unprepared for the thousands of drink orders they were getting. Maybe we should've brought our own from College Park :) I don't think the Barclays Center knew what they were getting into when they accepted the reservation from the Terrapin Club. Between this and several bar meetup spots in the neighborhood, you could be forgiven if 20 minutes before tipoff you thought MD fans were vastly outnumbered by UK fans. Except the MD fans were just finishing up their pregaming and arrived to dominate the arena just before tip. Gotta give a special shoutout to the student section in the upper deck, where I saw they were singing Rock and Roll pt 2 at the usual time :)
The big game itself had an unbelievable atmosphere. Jay-Z sat courtside, and I bet he was thinking to himself, "Why can't I get this kind of atmosphere at Nets games?" My section stood up for most of the game. Both fanbases were very knowledgeable and loud, with the Terps fans having an edge in the overall numbers and volume departments (I'd say there was at least 10K people cheering on the Terps). This was shocking to many Kentucky fans that I spoke to. They are known as a well-traveling fanbase, and though they respect Maryland fans, they just never expect to be the minority at a neutral site game. Whenever UK made a big play, a couple of their fans in the next section over would turn and start taunting me. Whenever UMD made a big play, I'd hurl some abuse at them (Saying everything they ever did with Cal would be vacated was a frequent topic). Despite the loss, it was a lot of fun to go up against the defending national champions and have the best player on the floor be on our side. The ushers I chatted with were amazed at what they saw at the game; they had never seen that much passion or noise from opposing fanbases.
As the final buzzer sounded, me and my friend shook hands with the Kentucky fans right next to and across from us. Though we had been shouting some nasty things at each other, it's not as if it was an actual rivalry with raw emotions and acrimony. When I excited the arena to get back on the subway, I once again had a smile on my face. Though we had lost, the Terps had acquitted themselves well and I could not be more excited about this team's potential for the rest of this season.