CHAPEL HILL — A historic college basketball series is coming to an end. Maryland on Wednesday night will play in Chapel Hill for the final time as a member of the ACC.
North Carolina and Maryland first played each other in 1924, and they have played each other annually, at least once, in every year since 1945. Their meeting on Wednesday night in the Smith Center, though, will be the final regular-season game in which the Tar Heels and Terrapins will play as ACC rivals.
After this season, who knows when UNC and Maryland, both founding members of the ACC, will play again.
Maryland will be in the Big Ten next season, off to chase a future that its leaders believe is more secure and financially lucrative. The Terrapins and Tar Heels could play next season and beyond perhaps in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, or in the NCAA tournament.
They could meet later this season in the ACC tournament, or in the postseason. Its likely they will never again play in January and February, as they have so many times before, competing for conference positioning along with the likes of Duke and Virginia and N.C. State.
The series provided college basketball with indelible moments and memories. This was a series that gave us Len Bias vs. Michael Jordan, and Dean Smith vs. Lefty Driesell. How many people heard ringing in their ears days after watching UNC and Maryland in Carmichael Auditorium and Cole Field House?
Two of the most replayed and memorable plays in ACC history happened a couple of years apart in UNC-Maryland games: Jordans rock-the-cradle dunk, on a breakaway, in the final seconds of a win at Cole Field House in 1984. And then Bias steal and reverse dunk in a Maryland victory at the Smith Center in 1986.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who served for 10 years as an assistant to Dean Smith, was on the Tar Heels bench for both of those moments. He reflected on Monday on the rivalry, and its approaching end.
I still think of Maryland as an ACC school, Williams said. And Ill always think that way. Im old-fashioned, old-school, and weve had some great, great games with them. I was here as an assistant for 10 years when coach Smith was head coach and Lefty was the coach up there. We had a great rivalry.
It will go on for at least one more game. Before the Tar Heels and Terrapins play in the regular season for the final time as ACC opponents, a look at some of their most memorable games, in chronological order:
• March 8, 1958: Maryland 86, UNC 74
Marylands disdain for the ACC tournament didnt just begin when Gary Williams coached the Terrapins. Maryland coaches complained about the tournament long before, dating all the way back to the Bud Millikan era.
Entering the 1958 ACC tournament, Millikan, who coached at Maryland from 1950 through 1967, described the event as the annual $60,000 farce. He was upset that the tournament champion, and not the ACCs regular-season champion, was the leagues lone representative in the NCAA tournament.
Millikan didnt have much to complain about when he guided the Terrapins, who finished fourth in the ACC that season, to an 86-74 victory against second-seeded UNC in the tournament championship game. The Terrapins victory kept UNC, the defending national champion, out of the NCAA tournament, and Maryland became the first team from outside North Carolina to win the ACC tournament.
The Terrapins didnt win it again until 1984.
• Jan. 25, 1976: No. 5 UNC 95, No. 2 Maryland 93.
UNC and Maryland have played each other 13 times when both teams were ranked among the top 10. Seven of those 13 games were between 1973 and 1976, and this one the Tar Heels victory in overtime at Carmichael Auditorium was probably the best.
Maryland led 47-37 at halftime but Phil Ford, the Tar Heels sophomore point guard, led the comeback. He scored 18 of his 22 points after halftime, and UNC tied it with about two minutes to play on a jumper from Tommy LaGarde.
Ford gave North Carolina a brief lead with 22 seconds left in regulation before Maryland tied it again to send the game to overtime.
Afterward, Smith told reporters that theres no other sight like Ford in the second half.
• Jan. 12, 1983: No. 11 UNC 72, Maryland 71.
The most memorable play Jordan made against Maryland was probably his iconic rock the cradle dunk some call it a reverse windmill in the final seconds of a 74-62 victory in College Park, Md., in 1984. The most important play Jordan made against Maryland? That came in this game, to preserve a victory in the final seconds.
Before that final play, though, Maryland took a 71-69 lead with 30 seconds left. Jimmy Braddock then made a 3-pointer to give the Tar Heels a 72-71 lead with nine seconds left. Which set up Marylands final play.
Driesell drew up a play for his son, Chuck, a guard who came off the bench for the Terrapins. The younger Driesell drove to the basket, where Jordan and Sam Perkins met him. Both Jordan and Perkins had a hand in the blocked shot, and it went out of bounds as time expired.
Lefty Driesell told reporters afterward that he was fine with the no-call on the blocked shot, but that he thought time shouldnt have expired.
I tried to find the officials after the game to ask about the time, but I couldnt find them Driesell said, according to the Lexington Dispatch. They were hiding from me.
• Feb. 20, 1986: Maryland 77, No. 1 UNC 72 (OT).
Nearly 30 years later, Len Bias performance in Marylands overtime victory is remembered as one of the best in the history of the Smith Center if not the very best. His steal and reverse dunk in the final minutes of regulation is remembered, too, as one of the signature plays in ACC history.
The Tar Heels led 68-59 with about three minutes left after a Brad Daugherty dunk. From there, Bias took control.
He made a jumper and then stole the inbounds pass. What happened next has been replayed over and over again. After the steal, Bias in one motion completed a dunk with his back to the basket. All of a sudden it was a five-point game.
Maryland tied the game in the final seconds on a 3-pointer from Jeff Baxter and Bias and the Terrapins won it in overtime. Bias finished with 35 points to lead Maryland, and UNC lost for the first time in the Smith Center.
Afterward Driesell told reporters, If Lenny Bias isnt the player of the world, I dont know is.
• Jan. 6, 1996: No. 16 UNC 88, Maryland 86 (OT).
It might have featured the most bizarre, dramatic ending of any UNC-Maryland game. Tied in overtime in the final seconds at Cole Field House, Tar Heels point guard Jeff McInnis drove and spun into the lane, where he attempted a difficult jump shot that bounced off the rim.
A scrum for the rebound ensued, and Dante Calabria wound up with the ball on the floor in the middle of the lane. Sitting on the court, Calabria threw the ball over his head toward the basket. It looked like a hook shot from a seated position.
Calabrias heave bounced weakly off the backboard and into Antawn Jamisons hands. Jamison, a freshman forward, put it back in just before time expired, and UNC won. Williams and Maryland players, stunned, didnt leave the court until they knew for sure that Jamisons shot counted. He released it with one-tenth of a second remaining.
Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter