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The 15: Top Maryland Men's Basketball Moments

February 17, 2014

After 60 years of playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the University of Maryland men's basketball team will bid farewell at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season. Maryland, an original member of the ACC, will join the Big Ten in July 2014.

During the Terps' time in the ACC, they have made 24 NCAA appearances, two Final Fours, four Elite Eights and 13 Sweet 16s. They won a national championship in 2002.

Here's a look back at some of Maryland's biggest moments during the past 60 years, listed in chronological order. 

1. First ACC Tournament Championship: March 8, 1958 -- Maryland defeated North Carolina, 86-74, March 8, 1958, in Raleigh, N.C., to become the first school outside of North Carolina to win the ACC title. Charlie McNeil led the Terps with 21 points, and the team made 40 of 52 free throws, 25 of them coming during the last four minutes. The win sent coach Bud Millikan and the Terps to their first NCAA tournament, where they defeated Boston College before losing to Temple during the regional semifinal. 

2. First Black Player: 1965-66 Season -- The ACC was established in 1953, but it wasn't until the 1965-66 season that a black athlete played basketball in the league. That player, Bill Jones, played for Millikan's Terps. Jones had a minimal impact his first season because of a knee injury, but that didn't keep others from taunting him. During the 1966-67 season, two more black players joined the league, Julius Johnson (Maryland) and C.B. Claiborne (Duke).

University of Maryland Terps: Lefty Driesell
Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox

3. The Lefty Era: 1969-1986 -- When Lefty Driesell became coach of the Maryland men's basketball team in 1969, he said he hoped to turn the program into the UCLA of the East. Although he didn't do exactly that, he did lead Maryland to eight NCAA tournament appearances, an NIT championship, two ACC regular-season championships and an ACC tournament championship. Driesell also introduced Midnight Madness, an event that celebrated the team's first eligible day of practice -- in the middle of the night.

4. Slow-down Game: Jan. 9, 1971 -- The Terps upset No. 2 South Carolina, 31-30, during one of the greatest slow-down games ever played. At halftime, the score was 4-3. According to Maryland records, a layup from Jim O'Brien tied the game with five seconds left, and O'Brien's 11-foot jumper with four seconds remaining during overtime sealed the victory.

5. 1974 ACC Championship Game -- Many regard the 1974 ACC championship game between Maryland and North Carolina State as one of the greatest games ever played. The matchup featured two of the nation's top teams and played a significant role in the NCAA's expansion of the men's basketball tournament to 32 teams, which allowed more than one bid from each conference. Maryland lost to N.C. State in overtime, 103-100, and missed the tournament, despite having six future NBA draft picks on the team. N.C. State went on to win the national championship.    

6. The Len Bias Era: 1982-1986 -- Len Bias was a two-time ACC Player of the Year and led the league in scoring his junior year. One of his more notable performances came Feb. 20, 1986, when he scored 35 points -- including seven during the last three minutes of regulation -- as the Terps beat No. 1-ranked North Carolina, 77-72, handing the Tar Heels their first loss in the Dean E. Smith Center. The performance led many fans to question whether Bias or UNC's Michael Jordan was the better player. On June 17, 1986, the Boston Celtics selected Bias as the second overall pick of the 1986 NBA Draft. On June 19, 1986, Bias died of a cocaine overdose in his dorm room. More than 11,000 people attended a memorial service for Bias at Cole Field House four days after his death.

7. Second ACC Tournament Championship: March 11, 1984 -- In 1984, Driesell won his first and only ACC tournament, defeating Duke, 74-62. Bias, who had been snubbed from the All-ACC team, scored 26 points during the victory against Duke and was named the tournament's MVP.

8. Maryland Hires Gary Williams: June 13, 1989 -- Gary Williams returned to his alma mater June 13, 1989, to coach a team that was plagued by NCAA sanctions following the death of Bias. Williams became the Terps' all-time winningest basketball coach with 461 victories during 22 seasons. An 89-74 overtime win against Vermont Nov. 21, 2008, gave Williams his 400th victory at Maryland -- and he joined Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and UNC's Dean Smith as the only ACC coaches to reach that milestone. Williams was named the National Coach of the Year in 2002, when he led the Terps to a national title, and ACC Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2010. No other college basketball coach has more wins against No. 1-ranked teams than Williams. On May 5, 2011, Williams announced his retirement from coaching, and the school renamed the court at Comcast Center "Gary Williams Court" Jan. 25, 2012.

9. 11 Straight NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1994-2004 -- Following the death of Bias, the NCAA imposed sanctions on Maryland, including a ban from postseason play in 1991 and 1992. After struggling through several seasons, the Terps earned an NCAA tournament berth in 1994, their first appearance since Bias' death. With that, Maryland began a string of 11 straight appearances, including a Final Four in 2001 and a national championship in 2002. The run served as a sign of hope for fans that Williams had led the Terps out of their troubled past. 

10. First Final Four Appearance: 2001 -- Maryland advanced to its first Final Four and 18th NCAA tournament appearance in 2001, falling to Duke, 95-84. Maryland blew a 22-point first-half lead, and the Blue Devils went on to win the national championship. It was the third time out of four meetings during the 2000-01 season that Duke defeated the Terps. 

11. Taking Down No. 1s In Cole Field House -- Cole Field House still holds the record for the most upsets of No. 1-ranked men's basketball teams. The Terps knocked off seven No. 1 teams in Cole Field House from 1955-2002. On Jan. 27, 1979, Maryland took down No. 1 Notre Dame, 67-66, on a last-second free throw from Larry Gibson. In 1995, the Terps defeated No. 1 North Carolina, 86-73. They followed that up in 1998, when they took down the top-ranked Tar Heels, 93-89, in overtime. Maryland also defeated the top ranked Tar Heels, 87-73, in 2002 on national TV to take first place in the ACC.

12. Last Game At Cole Field House: March 3, 2002 -- Maryland played its first game at Cole Field House in 1955, beating Virginia, 67-55. During the 1960s, Driesell added about 3,000 seats around the court, which raised the noise level inside the arena, giving Cole Field House one of the best home-court advantages in the country. Maryland ended its time at Cole Field House in a similar fashion to how it had started, with a 112-92 win against Virginia and a conference title. During 47 seasons (1955-2002), the Terps compiled a 486-151 record at Cole Field House.

13. National Champions: April 1, 2002 -- The Terrapins cut down the nets after they defeated Indiana, 64-52, during the 2002 national championship in Atlanta. Maryland guard Juan Dixon scored 18 points during the victory and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. With 9:40 remaining during the game, Dixon nailed a 3-point shot, which gave Maryland a 45-44 lead, and it didn't trail again. The road to the national championship took Maryland past future NBA player Tayshaun Prince and No. 4 Kentucky, Caron Butler and No. 2 Connecticut, and Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison and No. 1 Kansas.

14. Third ACC Tournament Championship: March 14, 2004 -- After a mediocre regular season, when many felt the Terps underperformed, Maryland won its third ACC tournament championship and Williams' first (and only) as head coach. After receiving the sixth seed, Maryland upset No. 3 Wake Forest and No. 2 N.C. State to face top-seeded Duke during the championship. The Terps defeated the Blue Devils, 95-87, in overtime behind guard John Gilchrist's 26 points. The win ended Duke's streak of five straight ACC tournament titles. Gilchrist was named the tournament MVP after making the game-winning free throw against Wake Forest during the quarterfinal and scoring a career-high 30 points against N.C. State during the semifinal. 

Issue 194: Maryland Basketball 2010: Greivis Vasquez vs. Duke
Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox

15. Maryland Defeats Duke, Becomes ACC Regular-season Co-champion: March 3, 2010 -- Maryland ended a successful regular season in spectacular fasion March 3, 2010, defeating No. 4 Duke, 79-72, in College Park to clinch a share of the regular-season ACC title. The win, which avenged an earlier loss to the Blue Devils, sent Maryland seniors Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes out on top with a victory during their final game at Comcast Center. The game ended with several big shots, including a 3-point jumper by Vasquez with 39 seconds left, which gave the Terps a 73-69 lead and fans reason to rush the court.