For years, fans in the DMV have clamored for Maryland and Georgetown to resolve their differences and once again play a regular season basketball game between the two schools. Where the game should be played, who gets what percentage of the revenue and other factors kept the schools from continuing the series after the Terps and Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams upset the Hoyas at the US Air Arena in Landover, MD in November of 1993.
That win marked the rebirth of the Maryland basketball program under former head coach Gary Williams. That season began a streak of 11-straight NCAA Tournament appearances for the Terps, including back to back trips to the Final Four and the 2002 National Title.
For a lot of younger Maryland fans, the circumstances that prevented Maryland and Georgetown from playing annually over the past 22 years meant many haven't experienced the excitement and energy that surrounds a game between the Hoyas and Terrapins. Most students currently attending the university weren't even born the last time the schools played in a regularly scheduled game. While the younger generation of Maryland fans understood the significance of the rivalry between the two schools, last night many of them got to experience it for the first time.
Maryland fans love to point to the Duke game as the basketball game people looked forward to the most. But with Duke out of the picture, barring a miraculous and unexpected pairing between the two schools in the B1G-ACC Challenge (which would probably be played in Durham anyway), the Georgetown game is a pretty good substitute. I'm not implying that the atmosphere, excitement and buzz surrounding past Duke games wasn't amazing, because it very much was, but the Georgetown game can be just as amazing. Look no further than what happened last night in College Park.
With Maryland's move to the Big Ten, many historical rivalries were lost. There are no longer annual games against Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and N.C. State. While there are opportunities to develop rivalries in the B1G, having Georgetown on the schedule annually, in addition to Maryland facing a former ACC foe in the B1G-ACC Challenge, makes the conference switch even better than it was before. Georgetown can replace Duke and Tuesday night demonstrated that.
There has been a buzz about this game, especially locally, since the announcement of the Gavitt Tipoff Games series. Last night, the noise inside the Xfinnity Center was so loud at times that Georgetown players were complaining about not being able to hear referees blowing their whistle. ESPN commentator Dan Dakich referred to the Maryland crowd as the "Best in the Big Ten" and later called them one of the "Top two or three crowds in the country." Look at the important names from Maryland basketball's past who came back for the game: Joe Smith, Gary Williams, Len Elmore, Greivis Vasquez, among others.
Then of course there was ESPN great Scott Van Pelt hosting his Sports Center show from the court of Xfinity Center. And his broadcast from Xfinity Center after the game was more of an infomercial on why Maryland is awesome than a typical SportsCenter. It included clips like this one about the legends of Testudo, interviews with Mark Turgeon in front of some of the nation's top basketball recruits, and interviewing Jake Layman on the Sports Center set in front of a bunch of Maryland students. Van Pelt even offered all the money in his wallet to a Maryland student if he could make a half court shot in three attempts. Fortunately, SVP kept his money, which he took to Bentley's to celebrate Maryland's win.
What a night. Thank you, Maryland.— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) November 18, 2015
What a night indeed. Here's hoping we continue to see nights like this between these two crosstown schools long into the future.