The Maryland fans in Comcast Center Sunday afternoon were prepared to witness something special during the Terrapins’ final regular season basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The students carried signs that trumpeted “61 Years.”
That’s the amount of time Maryland has played against the Dukes and North Carolinas of the sporting world as members of the ACC.
In fact, CBS announcer Marv Albert told the nation, Maryland and Virginia had the longest running basketball rivalry of them all, neighboring states that played each other when peach baskets were nailed up to gym walls. OK, not that long. The first time they met was in the 1923-24 season. Sunday was their 171st game against each other.
Next year, my Maryland will be leaving for the Big Ten. The money offered to join the Midwestern-based college conference was just too good for my Mid-Atlantic alma mater to pass up.
It’s bittersweet, knowing that these rivalries will be no more.
But on Sunday, the Terps took it to first-place UVa one last time, igniting the sold-out crowd with a 75-69 overtime victory over the fifth-rated team in the country.
On my flat screen, I watched the fans storm the court, dancing on the ACC logo. It felt like closure.
Yes, there’s there’s still play in this week’s ACC Tournament, but I’m not expecting much from Maryland in that one. They finished the regular season with a 9-9 league record, 17-14 overall. Basically, they’d have to beat Florida State in Thursday’s first matchup and then pull three straight upsets to win the tourney title to make it to the NCAA Tournament.
Four wins in four days won’t happen. The Terps have played so out-of-control this season, gave the ball away so many times, took bad shot after bad shot, that it’s been hard for me to even watch their games.
Sunday I watched ever last second of the final game in the ACC.
Match it was the Terp football team’s victory at North Carolina State its final ACC regular season game, and that’s two very good parting shots.
I’m ready for Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin …