Since I was at the Maryland-Duke game last Wednesday, I was asked to write a guest report for the website. So here it is. This was one of the most hyped matchups between Maryland and Duke since the early 2000’s. In those years (2000-2003) Duke versus Maryland was arguably the most competitive, talented, and heated contests between two schools in all of the NCAA. If you do not believe me, ask current basketball analysts Michael Wilbon and Jay Bilas, who have both talked about the hostility that these two schools and programs have for each other. While Duke had controlled the rivalry the past couple of years, everyone knew coming into the game that this would be an intense battle that would go down to the wire.
So many things were on the line for both teams. For Duke, they had a chance to beat Maryland and clinch the ACC regular season Championship and the number 1 seed for the ACC Tournament. It also would solidify their case to be a number 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament. For Maryland, this game would mean that they would have a chance to tie Duke for a share of the ACC regular season title and also give Maryland a signature win to improve its seeding for the NCAA tournament. It also was senior night for one of the most successful senior classes since the national championship team of 2002, guards Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez and forward Landon Milbourne, all of whom are 1,000 point career scorers. Specifically, it was the senior night of Greivis Vasquez, who will go down as one the greatest players to ever wear a Maryland uniform. Finally, this matchup featured the two main competitors for the ACC player of the year race, Vasquez and Duke’s Jon Scheyer.
The Terps came out firing right away at the 9pm tip-off. They got up 10-2 in the first four minutes until play had to be stopped because of a ripped net. After a team manager changed the net, the Terps kept coming at the Dukies, even getting their lead up to 14 points with 6:15 left in the first half. However, Duke closed the lead to 2 as the half ended through the play of their big three, Scheyer, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith. The first half featured periods of great offense from both teams. The first 10 minutes were all the Terps. They were hitting their outside shots and even had a slam by freshman Jordan Williams on Scheyer that drew the foul and the Comcast Center crowd into a frenzy (you can view it here). After Duke switched into their zone defense, Maryland was thrown off track and it allowed Duke a chance to get back into the game.
The second half featured crazy back and forth action which saw both teams take short leads throughout the whole half. With the second half dwindling down, the Terps turned to Vasquez to carry them. Vasquez made two running floaters to put the Terps up for good and to give them the win, 79-72. Much has been made nationally of how Vasquez has played this year, so I am sure that you guys know all about him. But what I do want to point out is the contributions in this game by other players on Maryland. They are Jordan Williams, a freshman center who had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, senior guard Eric Hayes who had 13 points on 6-8 shooting and provides a calming influence for the Terp offense, sophomore guard Sean Mosley, who chipped in 11 points and great defense, and junior reserve guard Adrian Bowie, who came off the bench for 9 huge points. These players do not often get talked about on a national scale, however these and the other main contributors for the Terps are very talented players and have put themselves in a great position to make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament.
When the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Maryland students stormed the court and got a final chance to celebrate with its three seniors. This was a great moment for those seniors, who had been through a lot in their four years in College Park. This win solidified not only their season but their legacy as a Maryland Terrapin and provided many special memories for the team and the fans. The Comcast Center was the loudest I have ever heard it in the four years I have ever been in the school. The fans were in to the game the whole time and definitely provided the Terps a home court advantage. It was a fitting way to end this season and the careers of the three seniors at Comcast.
With the win over Duke and the win at Virginia on Saturday, the Terps and Blue Devils both claimed the title as regular season champions in the ACC, with their conference records being 13-3. Duke won the number 1 seed due to ACC tiebreaker rules, therefore giving Maryland the 2 seed. Hopefully, these teams will have a 3rd matchup this year and play each other in the ACC Championship due to the talent level of both teams and the rivalry between the two schools.
While everyone is saying the ACC is down this year (and in terms of top teams, they are right), it is arguably the toughest conference top to bottom in the country. While other conferences have more top tier teams, the ACC offers a very competitive slate where there is no easy game. That’s why the ACC Tournament should feature to be one of the most exciting of the conference tournaments. Make sure you tune into watch, this week should be fun for all college basketball fans!