The Duke Blue Devils don't think that Maryland is their rival. History says otherwise.
I fully expect to hear the following chant at Cameron Indoor Stadium tomorrow night:
"Not our rival. Clap. Clap. Clap clap clap. Not our rival. Clap. Clap. Clap clap clap."
The two teams meet tomorrow night for the first time this season as the ACC is getting into full swing. And the rivalry continues to be one of the best in the country. The Terrapins' victory over the Blue Devils in College Park on March 3 last year was the last time that Duke lost that season. Actually, since the team is off to a 14-0 start this season, its the last time that Duke has lost. Period.
The rivalry has also featured some classic games. Maryland lost to Duke in the Final Four in 2001, and Steve Blake still talks about it years later. He told Jeff Barker of the Baltimore Sun "That was something I didn't forget for a long time." Clearly that was true. In the teams' next meeting, Blake stole the ball from Jason Williams in the dying seconds of the first half as Williams looked to Coach Mike Kryzyzewski on the sideline for instructions. I was watching with a couple of friends in a dorm room at the time, and the entire campus erupted as I'd never heard it before.
In my feature story on Ralph Friedgen's exit last week, I referenced the riots on campus following Maryland's National Championship victory in 2002. Even after we had won it all, you know what we were chanting? "F*** Duke" of course.
(To be fair though, Maryland fans riot for just about everything. Maryland football wins a big game, we riot. Earl Badu makes a layup, we riot. Ralph Friedgen loses 30 lbs, we riot. Debby Yow resigns, we riot. I believe that Maryland's riots are the sole reason that Ikea elected to open a store in College Park. Ikea furniture is cheap, quick to assemble, and light enough to be easily thrown in a bonfire. I'm really quite surprised that Ikea hasn't opened a store in Morgantown yet.)
Okay, so you might think that the North Carolina Tar Heels are Duke's real rival. Geographically speaking, that would certainly be correct. The fact that these two schools are separated by just eight miles of U.S. Highway 15-501 makes it true. But the Tobacco Road rivalry has been far less interesting than Duke-Maryland over the past several years. In 2010, a down year for the Tar Heels, Duke won both games. Prior to that, North Carolina had won seven of their last nine meetings. And then prior to that, Duke had won 15 of the last 17.
Whew, some rivalry.
Tell me where it's written that a team can have only one rival. I respect that the rivalry between Carolina and Duke will live on forever, but Maryland's rivalry with Duke has been among the best in college basketball in recent years.
It continues tomorrow night. And many will tell you that the Terrapins don't stand a chance against the No. 1 team in the country. But history will tell you different.