Sunday, January 20, 2008

Maryland 82, #1 North Carolina 80

Nearly a month ago on December 22, 2007 I went to Comcast Center and saw American University upset Maryland. American came into that game with nothing to lose while Maryland thought they could pretty much treat the game as a practice before the holiday break. Result: It was one of the ugliest Maryland basketball games I've ever seen as AU beat Maryland 67-59.

Yesterday the Terps traveled to Chapel Hill to take on the Tar Heels who were undefeated and were the number one team in the nation. The key word here is were. Yes, Maryland did learn something from that American University loss. They went into the "Dean Dome" with nothing to lose and stunned the Heels 82-80 in a thrilling game.

That was the seventh time in Gary Williams coaching career at Maryland that his team has knocked off the number one team in the nation and tenth time overall in Maryland's history, which is second to UCLA (13 times). Pretty cool stat.

Since that loss to American University, Maryland fans are seeing a nice on-court improvement of this team in recent weeks. Since that loss the Terps have hammered a Delaware team that is 5-0 in the very competitive Colonial League. They got another quality win at Charlotte, an Atlantic 10 team that has beaten Wake Forest, Davidson, Southern Illinois, Clemson, and Temple. They took care of business vs Holy Cross, a team capable of winning the Patriot League. The Terps also have a one point Atlantic Coast Conference loss on the road at Virginia Tech. That day they played without their starting Guard Eric Hayes. This week they added a solid ACC win at home vs Wake Forest.

What this team has shown us fans is that when they play well, they can rise up to beat the number one team on the road. When they play poorly they can lose to a Patriot League team at home (again, the American University loss).

This Maryland team (12-7, 2-2 in the ACC) is a talented and deep team, but is still very raw. There's still work to be done if they are to get a bid in the NCAA basketball tournament. Right now it is fun watching this team develop and progress. This win over North Carolina will be huge for the players confidence and should really help them know they can win close games down the stretch. The talent gap in college basketball is not what it once was. As I pointed out earlier, it is amazing that a team can lose at home to American and beat North Carolina on the road in less than a month.

All that said, here is one more photo I enjoyed seeing. This will go into my archives.

Read The Washington Post recap of the game here.

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