The final Maryland-Duke game — it doesn’t seem possible. The Terrapins and the Blue Devils are supposed to be forever locked in a rivalry like the Jets and the Sharks, each side stunning the other with last-second baskets, unlikely upsets and insane fans who make it the nation’s best college basketball rivalry.
No fraternity row couch was ever safe from bonfires after a Terps victory over the Blue Devils. Neither was Route 1 — as the College Park campus overflowed onto the streets after annual games.
But it ends Saturday in Durham, N.C., where snooty Duke fans like to cheer “Not our rival” to Maryland players despite cramming every inch of the outdated, cramped arena. North Carolina is closer to Duke, but Maryland is the latter’s nemesis. The Cameron Crazies loved intimidating Maryland players inbounding the ball by nearly touching them with outstretched arms and chanting barbs while pretending to be so above it all.
Maryland fans didn’t pretend to hate Duke; they made it obvious. From the raucous, personalized “Rock and Roll Part II” ending to chanting an obscenity at Duke guard J.J. Redick that was heard live on national television (forcing university officials to temper freedom of speech with restrictions on shirts and signs), Terps fans were all in for two hours.
The worst part about Maryland leaving the ACC for the Big Ten this fall is the end of the Maryland-Duke series. Conference officials were so angry over the Terps’ departure after 41 years, they kept Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State away from College Park on this season’s schedule.
North Carolina was Maryland’s chief rival until the 1977-78 season, when an emerging Duke beat Maryland three times. Suddenly, a generation shifted focus to the Blue Devils.
Duke leads the series 110-63, but Maryland has quite a few memorable upsets. Buck Williams and Albert King led Maryland to a 1980 shocker that was one of coach Lefty Driesell’s signature victories at Cole Field House.
The rivalry peaked in 2001, when Duke beat Maryland in the Final Four. Equally excruciating was the Terps blowing a 90-80 lead with one minute remaining for a 98-96 loss earlier that season.
But Maryland seems to save its best games for Duke. The final meeting at Cole Field House in 2002 saw the Terps upsetting the No. 1 Blue Devils, before Maryland went on to win the national title. Maryland beat Duke last year in the final game in College Park.
Technically, the two could meet in the annual Big Ten-ACC Challenge. However, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he won’t schedule Maryland and is powerful enough to veto the conference schedule-makers.
It will be tough to see the rivalry end, but even the Hatfields and McCoys took a break.