Today's Top Terp matchup pits two athletically-gifted players with short Terp careers against one another. In the #7 slot is Takoma Park native, Steve Francis. In the #10 spot is the dread-rocking, rim-rattling Chris Wilcox. Both were extremely talented players, and both ended their college careers relatively quickly. We break down the matchup below.
The #7 Seed - #23, Steve Francis, SG, 1998-1999
Stevie Franchise was only in College Park for one season but he certainly made his mark on Maryland basketball. The acrobatic Francis averaged 17 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists a game during the '98-'99 season and led Maryland to the Sweet 16 (their third appearance in a 5 year span). The Terps received the #2 seed in that tournament and finished the year with a 28-5 record.
His team accomplishments were impressive, at least as much as they can be in only one season. But what really sets Francis apart isn't his team accomplishments or his statistics even, but the general sense of excitement that he brought to Maryland basketball. Francis was, in every sense of the term, a human highlight reel. He loved to dunk the basketball and was maybe the most exciting individual player to watch in the Gary era. (Joe Smith could probably make a case, as well.)
Another factor to consider is the connection that Stevie still has to the program. He still comes to Comcast for games and when a tornado ripped through College Park in 2001, he hosted a dinner for the victims. He also had that awesome moment where he high-fived Greivis Vasquez after GV hit a big three against Virginia. (Point for the person who can find video evidence of this). Below is an example of one of Stevie's more emphatic dunks.
The #10 Seed - #54, Chris Wilcox, PF, 2000-2002
Like Francis, Chris Wilcox's statistics don't quite do him justice. The 6' 10 power forward averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds per game in his final, sophomore season and didn't even begin the year as the team's starter. In fact, he probably wasn't one of the best three players on any Maryland team he played on.
Wilcox did, however, have a propensity to step up in big games. His coming out party was a 19 point, 6 rebound performance in an upset over #2 Illinios. He also dropped 23 and 11 against #1 Duke at Cole. And then of course there was the national semifinal against Kansas where he dominated all-everything forward Drew Gooden while pouring in 18 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. Simply put, Chris Wilcox was a Terp who performed best on the biggest stages.
In terms of team accomplishments under Wilcox, it doesn't get much sweeter. He was on the 2001 Final Four team (albeit in a limited role) and was an essential part of the 2002 National Championship team. Wilcox's big time performances and the success of the teams he's played on make him deserving of a decent seed in this tournament.
Did Chris Wilcox do enough to knock off Steve Francis? What say you TTers?