Maryland and Georgetown are two of the most storied programs in men’s college basketball. They’ve combined for over 3,300 wins, 30 conference championships, seven Final Fours and one national championship each. When they meet on the hardwood, the significance speaks for itself.
The Terps lead the series 34-15, winning each of the last two matchups in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Both of those games were nail-biters, with the contests still hanging in the balance as the final seconds of the game counted down.
“This is a game that I think the city welcomes, everybody welcomes, both schools welcome,” Maryland legend Joe Smith said prior to the teams’ 2015 showdown that saw the Terps escape with a four-point victory. “I think it’s a game that should happen more frequently.”
Notwithstanding public desire, the geographically adjacent powerhouses have yet to play each other since despite the raucous atmospheres and intrigue the series produced.
On Aug. 6, though, the Terps and Hoyas will face off under a pair of fresh monikers. The “College Park Boys” from Maryland and “Dawg Talk” from Georgetown will bring together a collection of recent alumni from the storied programs for a showdown aimed at fostering a link between not only the players on the court, but the fans that fervently cheer on the two teams every season.
“We want to connect these players to the alumni and fan bases, and put on a game that connects different eras [and] connects different schools,” said Marc Stern, the Alumni Basketball League’s East Coast Division Director of Marketing. “Obviously, there’s a big geographic component in this in that Maryland and Georgetown are so close together, they recruit from the same area. Lots of players transfer from Georgetown to Maryland and vice versa, especially recently. And they’ve just always been the two dominant teams in the DMV. So to have them face off against each other with their fan bases in tow is just great representation for the DMV as a whole.”
Stern’s endorsement is one that holds weight, as he has been firmly entrenched in the DMV basketball scene for over a decade. He has been the owner and president of Capitol Hoops — a media outlet that gives exposure to local high school basketball players with a YouTube channel accumulating over 10,000 subscribers — since 2010 and co-founded DMV Live, one of the nation’s most well-attended NCAA-approved basketball recruiting events. At this year’s event at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, numerous high-major coaches were in attendance to watch some of the best high school basketball talent the region has to offer — including but not limited to Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Indiana’s Mike Woodson and recently-hired Maryland head coach Kevin Willard.
Even though the game is strictly for bragging rights, the ABL is operating in a nature similar to professional sports, with each team allotted a certain amount of money used to recruit former players to represent their school. Maryland’s roster is being assembled by Travis Garrison, the 2002 Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year who played four years for the Terps before playing professionally. Chris Wright — a Georgetown guard from 2007-11 that also played professional basketball — is in charge of mobilizing his opposition.
“The two general managers are in the latter stages of finalizing their rosters and a league announcement should come soon with full rosters,” Stern said. “Expect to see a lot of local flavor in this game.”
The league’s origins can be traced back to 2019, when former Missouri star Kareem Rush decided to host an alumni game between his Tigers and nearby foe Kansas, a harsh rivalry nicknamed the Border War that dates back over a century. Rush is a Missouri Tiger through and through — in his three years with the program he was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year, was twice named to the All-Big 12 First Team and was even named Missouri’s men’s basketball player of the decade for the 2000s. The rivalry became even more personal when Rush’s brother Brandon opted to play for the Jayhawks, winning a national championship in 2008.
Rush’s alumni game captured the attention of thousands of Tigers and Jayhawks fans that packed into a gym, sharing the same passion he did for the rivalry and sparking an idea in his head to create a league centered around rekindling college basketball rivalries by hosting alumni games. He co-founded the league with Missouri teammate Jake Jackson — the founder and chairman of a pair of investment firms — and teamed up with Jason Conley. Conley also played at Missouri after transferring from Virginia Military Institute following an electrifying two seasons that included a freshman campaign that saw him become the first freshman ever to lead the NCAA in scoring. Conley has roots in Maryland, both playing and coaching high school basketball in the state.
In addition, Stern and basketball entrepreneur Ricky Goings were brought on board to further establish strong relationships in the area.
“The grander vision is that we have a lot of these games and it turns into a league,” Stern said. “The fact that the first game of the ABL is happening here says a whole hell of a lot about our area and the basketball in this area. And, you know, I think it speaks volumes about DMV hoops.”
“Y’all don’t wanna miss this game. It’s gonna be legendary,” Garrison said in a video posted to his personal Twitter account. “I’m definitely excited about it. All the guys are excited about it. The league, everybody’s excited about this. It’s gonna be huge. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this game.”
The site of the matchup is expected to be announced in the coming days.