Rick Snider: Maryland-Duke rivalry will be gone in a Big Ten second

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There's nothing better than Duke-Maryland basketball.

It's practically an annual holiday in College Park. Time to beat the rich kids. Burn a couch. Drink in the streets. The game against the Blue Devils is a mini-Mardi Gras for Terrapins fans -- win or lose.

But Saturday may be the home finale for the team's greatest rivalry of the past 20 years. Maryland's ACC exit after next season surely will result in conference officials penalizing the Terps with the worst schedule possible, and that probably means no home game against Duke in 2014.

Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski already called the Terps "outsiders" for leaving their longtime conference for the Big Ten and a mountain of money. Krzyzewski holds major clout in the ACC and knows Maryland is often his toughest rival outside of North Carolina. He surely would swap a Maryland road game for anywhere else, and the conference won't feel the need to schedule the rivalry even if it's annually one of the ACC's higher-rated games.

Up next
No. 2 Duke at Maryland
When » Saturday, 6 p.m.
Where » Comcast Center
TV » ESPN

Oh, Krzyzewski will invite Maryland to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a farewell appearance. Awfully gracious of him, but a 2014 game at Comcast Center seems unlikely.

So say goodbye to the best home game on the schedule. Maybe President Wallace Loh will declare his previous school, Iowa, as Maryland's new rival when Big Ten play begins. While the new conference offers standout opponents such as Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana and Wisconsin, there won't be the same juice as playing Duke. Penn State? Oh, please.

There's always the ACC-Big Ten Challenge each year, but Duke won't want any part of playing Maryland. Maybe the teams will meet in future NCAA tournaments, but those games won't be in College Park.

This is the first and biggest price of switching conferences solely for money. The move might make financial sense, but it stings to lose this rivalry.

Former Terps center Buck Williams called it a civil war without guns after a 1980 meeting, and that was when North Carolina was Maryland's bigger rival. Beating the No. ?5 Blue Devils at Cole Field House essentially launched the rivalry as the season's biggest game.

Coach Gary Williams specialized in upsets over Duke; he won five of seven in one stretch from 2004 to 2007. And then there was the "Gone in 54 Seconds" overtime loss to Duke in 2001 after Maryland led by 10 points in the final minute. That might be the most excruciating series loss by the Terps even if they blew a 22-point lead later to the Blue Devils in the Final Four.

Duke fans like to chant "Not our rival" to Maryland. Indeed, nearby North Carolina is certainly a bigger game. But Duke and Maryland will miss playing because each brought out the best in other.

Enjoy future Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska games. Combined, they don't match an afternoon vs. Duke.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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