No. 8 Maryland men set for first top 10 matchup at Xfinity Center with No. 3 Iowa in town

Maryland is set for its first Xfinity Center matchup between top 10 men's teams, against No. 3 Iowa.

When No. 8 Maryland hosts No. 3 Iowa at Xfinity Center on Thursday, it will mark the 15th time two top 10 men’s teams have faced off in College Park since Lefty Driesell arrived in 1969.

Interestingly, it will be the first time that has happened on the College Park campus since the No. 3 Terps beat top-ranked Duke, 86-73, at Cole Field House during the 2001-02 season.

That game came a year after No. 8 Maryland lost to the No. 2 Blue Devils in a game when the Terps blew a 10-point lead in the final minute to fall in overtime, 98-96.

Hall of Fame coach Gary Williams said that going into the 2002 game, senior captain Juan Dixon suggested that 6-foot-10 center Chris Wilcox guard Duke forward Mike Dunleavy.

“As good a defensive player as Byron Mouton was, Dunleavy was a hard guy for him to guard because of his size. Chris was bigger and stronger, and it was just a matter of him staying with Dunleavy [in terms of quickness],” Williams recalled.

Though Dunleavy finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, Wilcox had a career-high 23. But the play Williams and others still talk about was junior point guard Steve Blake stripping Jason Williams at midcourt right before the half.

With the Terps up by seven, Jason Williams was trying to set his team up for the last shot. When he momentarily turned his head to take instructions from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, Blake stole the ball and went in for a layup.

“That play gave us a lot of momentum,” Gary Williams said Tuesday.

One of the long forgotten matchups between top 10 teams in College Park came on Dec. 24, 1983, in a rare meeting between Driesell and Williams, then in his second season at Boston College.

Williams, whose Eagles were ranked sixth at the time, doesn’t remember much of an 89-76 loss to the No. 8 Terps except how cold it was outside (“It was about 15 degrees," Williams said,) and how hot Driesell’s team was inside Cole.

“Lefty had a lot of players,” Williams said of a Maryland team that featured rising sophomore star Len Bias and junior point guard Adrian Branch. “But Lefty always had a lot of players.”

It was the second meeting between Williams and Driesell. The first came when the Terps crushed American University in 1980-81, 95-65. Williams finally beat Driesell during the 2001 NCAA tournament, when Maryland won easily over Driesell’s Georgia State team, 79-60, en route to its first Final Four.

Williams said as much as the matchups between top 10 teams were fun, the games where the Terps were unranked (or near the bottom of the Top 25) and upset highly ranked teams were even more satisfying. Williams, who holds the record with seven wins over No. 1 teams, enjoyed one in particular toward the end of his 22-year career at Maryland.    

“That game with Duke in 2010, we had just beaten Virginia Tech [in double overtime] and that game gave us a chance to tie for the ACC regular-season championship,” he said.

Led by senior guard Greivis Vasquez, the Terps beat the No. 4 Blue Devils, 79-72. 

“We knew we could do it. We had beaten Carolina the year before when they were No. [3] and they went on to win the national championship. They had all been through that before," Williams said. "We had some confidence.”

don.markus@baltsun.com

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