With Maryland finishing their last season in the ACC, we will be reviewing some of the most important and memorable ACC games involving Maryland. Today, Brendan talks about Virginia.
Virginia has been the classical rival for the University of Maryland. Sure, they share a border with West Virginia too, but that rivalry doesn't translate to basketball. Maryland has "claimed," while Duke has denied, a rivalry with the Blue Devils, but again, it doesn't cross the major sports.
Virginia has been Maryland's main rival across all sports throughout the years. However, we are reaching the end of the line as Maryland's move to the Big Ten approaches. This will be the final game Maryland has at home against an ACC opponent, so naturally it had to be Virginia.
Maryland holds a 106-72 edge in their 178 meetings against Virginia in the series.
The 178 meetings between Virginia and Maryland is only equaled by North Carolina, however, after their game against Virginia on Sunday, this series will have the top spot. The storied history in this rivalry has seen the likes of Dixon, Bias and Sampson over the years.
With the amount of history between these two teams, it's fitting they managed to close down each others former arena against each other. Maryland opened Comcast Center in 2002 after a long run at the legendary Cole Field House. Meanwhile, Virginia had a long, prosperous run at University Hall that ended in 2006 before opening John Paul Jones arena.
In what is mostly a forgotten season, Maryland managed to have their season highlight come against a heated rival in their final game at home. Virginia hosted Maryland at University Hall to close out the 2006 regular season. Forget that Maryland was 18-10 and Virginia sat at 14-12 and both teams had sub-.500 records in conference.
Maryland was the better team, but Virginia came crawling back out of a 36-27 halftime deficit to take the lead late in the second half. Nik Caner-Medley managed to stay calm at the free throw line to bring Maryland back even multiple times.
Mike Jones broke Virginia's heart as he hit the game-winning three-pointer with 1:11 left. Jones, who never lived up to his massive hype, managed to end Virginia's hopes of closing out their time at University Hall with a win, sort of like Maryland did with Cole Field House against the Cavaliers.
Cole Field House was a legendary arena on the University of Maryland campus. It was home to the now-famous 1966 Final Four, as well as the 1991 first round that saw the first-ever 2-seed upset by a 15-seed (we still have that feather in our cap, Syracuse).
Hell, some people still pine for the days of Cole Field House in light of a (sometimes) unwelcoming feel at Comcast Center.
"The home-court advantage is gone," they will say, but Comcast Center holds an extra 4,000 seats, and while they aren't always filled, when Comcast Center is rocking the home-court advantage is clear.
The final game at Cole went as it should have. When I say that, I mean Maryland beat the snot out of a mediocre Virginia team en route to their National Championship.
Maryland already had wins against Duke, North Carolina, etc. After all, they were 24-3 and 14-1 in the conference at that point, but getting the win over Virginia, in that fashion, was outstanding. Maryland closed out their run at Cole Field House against their biggest rival, 112-92.
Juan Dixon led the Terrapins with 23 points, but all five starters finished in double-digits scoring, plus Drew Nicholas off the bench. Chris Wilcox had a double-double. Gary Williams sweat through his shirt, fist-pumped and ultimately, came away with a 20-point victory in his final game at Cole against Virginia.
For the seniors, Dixon, Byron Mouton and Lonny Baxter, it was an end to one of the best senior classes in Maryland history. It was also the final game at home for the sophomore Wilcox who went on to the NBA that spring.
Even the late Earl Badu got in on the scoring, in what had to be one of the louder moments in the history of the legendary Cole Field House.
These two great rivals closed out their great arena's against each other, and in both cases Maryland came out on top. On Sunday, the two close out their Atlantic Coast Conference rivalry in the season finale at Comcast Center.