The best show on television Sunday may not be the Super Bowl.
The best show on the tube, with tipoff at 12:30 p.m. (WJLA-TV-7), could be Maryland vs. North Carolina, or the Dean and Lefty Show, now in its 11th year on the air.
Lately, however, as far as Lefty Driesell's Maryland team is concerned, the plots have been depressingly similar. In the last four seasons, and nine games, the final score has always been a shot of the scoreboard with Dean Smith's North Carolina team on top.
"If I were Lefty, I'd tell his team to forget this game," one Carolina official said recently. "He should just tell his players to pretend it doesn't exist and worry about the next game. That way, maybe his kids wouldn't always be so tight."
Although Driesell won't admit it, his inability to beat Smith in recent years irks him. "Don't even try to talk to him 24 hours before a Carolina game," one friend said. "He won't even know you're there."
On paper, this Maryland team should have as good a chance to beat the Tar Heels as any in recent memory. The Terps come into Carmichael Auditorium in first place in the ACC with a 4-1 record and a 12-2 overall mark. UNC is 4-2 in the conference, 10-3 in all games.
Maryland is playing good, confident basketball. As a team, the Terps are shooting 54 percent -- as are the Tar Heels -- and their four key operatives are all healthy and playing at their best.
Albert King has yet to play a bad game this season. He is averaging 21.6 points per game, hitting 56 percent of his shots. The new, improved Ernest Graham is averaging 19.5 points and 9.0 rebounds a game. Greg Manning is averaging 14.9 while hitting a phenomenal 62 percent from the field. Buck Williams is more than holding his own at center with a 13.6-point average.
"They're going to come in here very confident," Carolina assistant Eddie Fogler said. "The key on the road is a quick start, hit a few shots and roll. If they do that, it will be a hell of a game."
Confidence is doubly important for Maryland when the opponent is Carolina. Driesell is 5-20 against Smith over the last 10 seasons and last year had to be the most frustrating of all for the Maryland coach.
First, Carolina beat the Terps in College Park, 53-52, in a game in which neither Mike O'Koren nor Dave Colescott played. Al Wood played that day with a bad hand.
In Chapel Hill, Maryland was respectable, losing by nine. Then came the ACC tournament and a 102-79 loss to the Heels. The game was embarrassing -- especially for Driesell, who got so flustered he left his starters in during the final minutes against Carolina's third string.
But last season is over -- unless it still preys on the minds of the Maryland players.
"No way," said King. "We're a different team and so are they. This is a whole new year. We've got a good team, so do they. But the past won't affect this game."
Although they played brilliantly in beating Duke in Durham a week ago, the Tar Heels have been inconsistent all season. They almost lost to Georgia Tech two days after the Duke game and have not beaten anyone solidly (except Duke) in conference play yet.
O'Koren, their All-America Forward, is not shooting enough, with only 22 shots the last three games. That statistic bothers Smith, since O'Koren, scoring 15.4 points a game, makes 55 percent of the shots he takes.
Junior Al Wood leads the Carolina scoring at 18.2 but freshman James Worthy may be playing the best of all for Carolina lately. He is averaging 12.5 points, leading in rebounding (7.5) and playing excellent defense.