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Gary Williams and Top-Ranked Teams: The Record-Holder

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This picture's awesome for a ton of reasons, not the least of which is Berend Weijs photobombing an otherwise awesome Gary portrait.
This picture's awesome for a ton of reasons, not the least of which is Berend Weijs photobombing an otherwise awesome Gary portrait.

Like we led off with in the MM, there are a lot of notable streaks heading into Maryland's showdown with Duke this Sunday. There's Duke's 24 consecutive wins - Maryland was the last team to beat them, for what it's worth. As Liz Clarke noted, there's Jordan Williams' double-double streak, plus Nolan Smith's 20+ point game streak. As Patrick Stevens found out, there's also Marlyand's streak of losing ACC road openers.

What we didn't mention quite so much were records. Like the one that Gary Williams owns regarding beating top-ranked teams.

No active coach has more victories over a #1 ranked team than Gary Williams (he has seven). The latest came a few years ago in that thriller in Chapel Hill, with the majority coming in the early part of the decade (in the glory years of the Duke-Maryland rivalry) and in the mid 90s.

Just as Gary is #1, so too is Maryland. Actually, Maryland's tied for #1 with UCLA for the most upsets over the top-ranked team in the country, but being tied with arguably the best basketball program ever is pretty impressive. As it so happens, UNC is actually the #1 team; Maryland is tied with UCLA for second. Very well; they're two of the best five programs ever, so I'm content with that. And if you're wondering, yes, Gary's responsible for the vast majority of those victories. And he'll get a chance for another on Sunday.


You might remember this upset, over Florida in 2003:

Or this one, over Duke (and before Stu Scott was unbearable):

Or this one, or this one, or this one, or this one.

Maryland beat the #1 team in the country the last time they played one, which was the win over UNC in the Dean Dome in Jan. 2008. So I guess that's kind of a streak, right? Regardless, Gary Williams' performance against #1 teams is well worth mentioning.

I suppose it's Gary's personality that makes it this way, that up-against-the-wall attitude that gets even more enflamed when facing a heavy favorite bearing a #1 ranking. If you can pick any coach for a one-off game against a top-ranked team, you pick Gary Williams.

That's yet another reason to believe that maybe, just maybe, Maryland stands a chance against Duke on Sunday. If Jordan Williams shows up, if Terrell Stoglin is under control, if Duke isn't on fire from outside, if Maryland can rebound well...that's a lot of conditionals, sure, but if I was betting on one guy to make all of them happen in this situation, my money's on Gary.

Maryland will have a fairly heavy uphill battle on Sunday. Given Williams' history, maybe we can expect a little magic. He'll need it.