On Wednesday night, the Maryland Terrapins and North Carolina Tar Heels meet in a very important men’s college basketball game at the Comcast Center in College Park.
At 21-8 overall and 11-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Heels look to be set for a trip to the 2013 NCAA Tournament. For Maryland, however, it is a huge event. The Terps, who are 20-9 and 8-8 in the ACC, need to win to improve upon their NCAA resume. Most experts think that Maryland has some work to do before they can get a bid to the tournament for the first time since 2010.
As I am concerned with Maryland coach Mark Turgeon’s team chances of getting to the “Big Dance”, playing UNC always brings back memories of a rivalry that has been, shall we say, intense over the years.
With Maryland moving to the Big Ten in 2014, the regular season games with UNC will be coming to an end.
We don’t have enough time to reminisce about every game played between the two schools, but I’d like to share some thoughts.
I’ve been watching Maryland hoops since the the mid-70’s. Like with the Yankees, Red Sox and Steelers, it was an instinctive feeling to hate North Carolina.
I didn’t like their coach Dean Smith and I was not found of Carolina Blue. The first college basketball player I really disliked was Heels guard Phil Ford.
Ford was a fabulous player and a master of Smith’s Four Corners offense. When UNC would get the lead, which was often, Smith would place four players in the corners of a half-court set and Ford would dribble around like a beast and eat up clock.
Keep in mind, this was before the three-point shot and the shot-clock. If you were down three in the final minutes against North Carolina, you were usually done.
My first great memory of Maryland and North Carolina was on Super Bowl Sunday 1980.
The Terps traveled to Chapel Hill to play the highly-ranked Tar Heels at old Carmichael Auditorium. The Heels featured All-American’s Mike O’Koren and Al Wood and a brilliant freshman in James Worthy.
Unfazed, and led by ACC Player of the Year Albert King’s 28 points, Maryland upset the Heels 92-86 on their way to the ACC regular season title.
Terps’ coach Lefty Driesell was thrilled.
Another game that is fondly remembered by Maryland fans happened on February 20th 1986. On this night the great Len Bias led the Terps to a 77-72 victory over the top-ranked Heels at the Dean Dome.
I’d like to give you a recap of what a I recall watching that evening. Unfortunately, I was at the Patterson Movies watching Delta Force starring Chuck Norris.
We found out that Maryland had won when we stopped by the Butcher’s Hill Tavern on the corner of Chester and Lombard in Southeast Baltimore. A crusty old bartender told us about the upset.
Needless to say, when Maryland plays North Carolina, you never know what will happen.
For the purpose of full disclosure, I am for the Maryland move to the Big Ten. That’s a story for another day.
But I will sure miss rooting against that Carolina Blue every year.