The Terrapins left Wichita, Kan., looking ahead to their trip to the Sweet 16 against Michigan. The Minutemen left the Kansas Coliseum looking back at their shocking defeat. But in time, both would start looking ahead to today's nationally televised showdown at the Baltimore Arena.
"The whole summer, the whole preseason, we've been looking forward to playing them again," Massachusetts center Marcus Camby said earlier this week in Amherst. "This game is more important to me than the Arkansas game was."
The 2 p.m. meeting between fifth-ranked Massachusetts (2-1) and No. 11 Maryland (6-1) is possibly the biggest college basketball game ever played in Baltimore, and one of the top matchups of the 1994-95 season. For obvious reasons, it also has become one of the biggest nonconference rivalries in the country.
It marks the third time in less than a year that the teams have played. The Minutemen beat the Terps, 94-80, last Dec. 29 at the Springfield (Mass.) Civic Center in the final of the Abdow's Christmas Classic. Then came Maryland's 95-87 upset in the NCAA tournament.
"They proved they were a good team by beating us in their tournament, and we proved we're a good team by beating them in the NCAAs," said Maryland forward Keith Booth, who along with teammate Rodney Elliott and first cousin Donta Bright of Massachusetts will give the game a decidedly Dunbar flavor. "It's going to come down to who wants it more today."
Said Massachusetts forward Lou Roe, "This will show who the men are and who the boys are. The men will play and the boys will sit."
The Minutemen will try to make Joe Smith sit, which the Terps All-American might have had to do had Duane Simpkins not pulled him off Colgate's Tucker Neale before Smith got off a punch in their second-half confrontation during a 60-point win Thursday at Cole Field House.
"He's going to make me play at my best," said Camby, who had a career-high 32 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks against Smith the last time they played, but has struggled so far this season. "And I'm going to make him play at his best."
The Terps hope they don't bring out the best in Roe, who is having a monster season. The Massachusetts All-American, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound senior, has become one of the country's best inside players in the past two years.
Roe dominated fellow All-American Corliss Williamson in UMass' season-opening victory over the then-No. 1 Razorbacks with 34 points and 13 rebounds, then had 33 points and 12 rebounds when the then-No. 1 Minutemen lost to seventh-ranked Kansas a week ago in the John Wooden Classic.
"The key is that we have to stop Lou Roe down low," said Maryland forward Exree Hipp, who had 19 points, 15 in the second half, in last year's victory over Massachusetts.
Despite a lower ranking, Maryland could have a decided edge this afternoon if the sellout crowd of more than 12,000 at the Arena becomes as enthusiastic as the sellout crowds have been in College Park this year, or as loud as it was in the same building two years ago when the Terps upset Oklahoma.
"I'd rather play them in Baltimore than Springfield, I guess that gives us an advantage," Maryland coach Gary Williams said yesterday. "You always want to play in front of your fans, especially if it's loud. The main thing is we're playing well right now. We're more experienced than we were last year."
Said Massachusetts coach John Calipari: "We're going up against a team that's playing unbelievably well, on what will be their home court. The biggest thing is not winning this game. At this time of year, the biggest thing is learning. We lost against Kansas, but we learned."
The Terps will not be happy with just furthering their education against Massachusetts. They know that a win over the Minutemen will propel them back into the top 10 -- Maryland started at No. 7 before losing to Arizona State in the Maui Invitational -- and possibly into the top five.
"It's a chance to prove to everyone that we're deserving," said Simpkins, who played a key role in last year's victory, scoring a career-high 20 points. "We want to quiet some of the whispers about whether we can play with the big boys."
There are some interesting matchups and intriguing sidelights to this game: the head-to-head competition between Smith and Camby, two of the country's best young centers; the cousin-against-cousin competition between Booth and Bright, which dates to when the two used to play using milk crates as baskets behind their East Baltimore homes.
"People are looking at individual challenges between me and Joe, and Donta and Keith, but we have to go in playing as a team," said Camby, suffering from the effects of the flu. "We thought we had them last year when we went up 10 in the second half, but they found a way to win."
A little less than nine months after leaving Wichita, Maryland and Massachusetts have found their way back to each other. To the Baltimore Arena and perhaps the biggest college basketball game in the city's history.
NOTES: Neither team practiced at the Arena yesterday because of an indoor soccer game last night. . . . In his two games at the Arena, Hipp has shot 20 of 29 from the field and four of five on three-point attempts, and scored his career-high 35 last year against Towson State.
TERPS IN BALTIMORE
Year ... ... Opponent ... ... Result
1982 ... ... Penn State .. .. L, 97-79
1987* ... .. Loyola ... .. .. W, 74-60
... .. .. .. Mississippi State .. W, 77-69
1992 ... ... Oklahoma ... ... W, 89-78
... ... Towson State ... W, 109-71
-- MCI Harbor Classic