When it comes to Maryland and North Carolina memories, I have to admit I'm a little bit biased. I was in Cole Field House on January 14, 1998 when redshirt freshman Mike Mardesich had the game of his life scoring the game tying basket and leading the Terps in overtime as they upset the number one ranked Tar Heels 89-83 marking the third time in the series that Maryland defeated a top ranked North Carolina squad. And I was in Cole Field House again for Maryland's two most lopsided wins in the series 112-79 in January 2002 and 96-56 in 2003. But my top memory (because I'm an old guy) is of a game I didn't attend.
Since the series began in 1924, the Terps are 57-122. As members of the ACC, Maryland has 39 wins against 94 losses. This is a .273 winning percentage so one could argue that almost any win against Carolina should be memorable and I mentioned three of them in the first paragraph. Still, for me, this is the game that stands above the rest:
The date: February 20, 1986.
The place: The Student Activities Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The resumes: Visiting Maryland was 14-11 and unranked and North Carolina was 25-1 and ranked number one in the country.
The rosters: UNC had Jeff Lebo, Kenny Smith, Brad Daugherty and five other McDonalds All-Americans. Maryland had Len Bias.
The result, in overtime: Maryland 77 North Carolina 72.
When the game started, it looked as though North Carolina was going to cruise to an expected victory. Late in the first half, the Tar Heels held an eleven point lead. Then Bias went to work. He scored six straight in typical Bias fashion - an alley-oop dunk, two free throws, and a smooth baseline jumper. Thanks largely to 17 points from Bias, Maryland was hanging around down only five at halftime.
The Terps stayed in contact for most of the second half never letting the Tar Heels pull away but never quite getting even either. It seemed that for every Maryland run, North Carolina had the answer. With about three minutes left in the game, Carolina had stretched their lead to 68-59 despite 27 from Bias. The Terps were still down by six when this happened:
Look again at Bias' dunk after the steal. Not just a jam, a reverse dunk. And lest you think superman only played on one end of the floor, take another look at who blocks Kenny Smith's shot in the overtime. In 2014, the Twitterverse would have exploded. By himself Bias would have likely had three plays in SportsCenter's top ten. The ACC's Must See Moments would have been renamed the Len Bias Show. Someone would have set up a Len Bias YouTube channel.
Perhaps this is a bit of hyperbole but as I said in my first sentence, I a little bit biased - or in this case - Biased. By game's end, Len Bias had scored 35 points, North Carolina had its first loss in their shiny new building, Lefty Driesell had his first win over North Carolina when they held the number one spot in the polls, and I was dancing around my apartment singing, "A-A-AMen! A-A-AMen! A-Amen! Amen! Amen!".
Oh, and just because Len Bias was Len Bias, let me add this: