The breadth of knowledge and historical perspective of my fellow staffers at Testudo Times and this site's devoted commentariat is, truthfully, a bit intimidating for me. Many of you have several decades of experience as Maryland fans under your belts, your Terps memories dotted with names like Esiason, Dixon, Bias and Blake. Given my out-of-state residency and still-pretty-limited time in College Park, I don't have that - though I'm trying (seriously) to catch up.
My silver lining, though, is that picking a favorite Atlantic Coast Conference memory is pretty easy. I've got just one football, basketball, soccer, and lacrosse season to choose from -- plus all the school's other fine sports -- and the pick isn't very challenging: I'm taking Maryland men's basketball's squeaker of a win over Duke last February at Comcast Center.
February 16, 2013 - Maryland 83, #2 Duke 81
If you're reading this, you watched the game and know what happened, so there's no need for an extensive blow-by-blow of all the generous foul calls that kept Mason Plumlee and Duke in the game for way too long, or of Seth Allen's ostensible coming-of-age moment as he overcame a slew of turnovers to lead the Terps to victory in the final minutes.
More than the particulars of the game, though, I'll always remember February 16 as the day my personal Maryland Pride started to swell more than ever before. It seemed like sort of a drag getting up at 6 a.m. for a night game and standing in a frigid line all day only to get pretty lousy wall seats in the end, but it turned into a great collegiate experience. The athletic department's PR and marketing folks hit an absolute home run with its Pride-themed color-coded seating and Harlem Shake experiments, and for a night, Comcast was the epicenter of the college basketball universe again.
Students were allowed inside the building something like two hours before tip-off. Some had been waiting outside for three days, which I couldn't fathom even as I was reporting on it. The Harlem Shake and choreographed cheering came off way better than any of us expected during the pregame, and the entire gameday experience couldn't possibly have come off better. I might look back one day and think that the game wasn't worth much because the Terps didn't ultimately make the NCAA Tournament, but it was still pretty incredible.
My only real issue with the night was that, as everyone was rushing the court, we'd mostly all put our jackets back on (it was freezing outside), so the mass of humanity on the court wasn't a rainbow of school colors. That would have looked much cooler, in retrospect.
The Big Ten will be a boon for Maryland, but I'll miss having the Dukies as a classic ACC villain.