Perhaps one final go-around for Duke, Maryland in College Park

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy,Terps,University of Maryland

Games with Blue Devils will be lost with move to Big Ten

Is it really the last time to see Duke in College Park? One last time to scream venom at the Blue Devils? One last time to enrage coach Mike Krzyzewski? One last time to knock Duke off its high horse?

With a sense of melancholy, Maryland fans will come to Comcast Center on Saturday when Duke makes perhaps its final visit. Each year for nearly three decades, Duke at Maryland has been a mark-the-calendar, must-see event.

Even when the Terrapins were struggling with scandal, coaching changes and NCAA sanctions in the 1980s, the Duke game was a chance to observe a model program, led by a goody two-shoes coach whom Maryland fans quickly came to envy and despise.

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

After a decade under Gary Williams, the Terps became equal partners in a rivalry that was among the most heated in the sport. But now, with Maryland departing for the Big Ten in 2014, the curtain is drawing on an era full of memories.

As Maryland (17-7, 5-6) girds for No. 2 Duke (22-2, 9-2), the Terps hope to play a game worthy of the tradition. With Maryland teetering on the NCAA bubble, there is much at stake. The Terps need a signature victory to highlight their resume and provide an injection of confidence for the stretch run.

"We win that game, great things can happen the rest of the way," senior Logan Aronhalt said.

No team gets Maryland's attention like Duke, especially when it could be the Blue Devils' last game here.

"It definitely adds a little bit more juice," sophomore Nick Faust said. "Fans are gonna be more into it. They're gonna be more locked in."

This seemingly is a good time to catch Duke. The Blue Devils are coming off a 73-68 win at home Wednesday over rival North Carolina, while the Terps last played Sunday in an 80-69 loss to Virginia. Maryland is rested and desperate. Not so much for Duke, which appears destined for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

The conditions were vastly different when the teams met three weeks ago. Then ranked No. 1, the Blue Devils were coming off a 90-63 humiliation at Miami, their worst regular-season loss in 29 years. Duke took it out on Maryland, shooting 52.4 percent from the floor and 50 percent from the arc in an 84-64 romp.

"It really came down to their ball-screen defense was really good and ours was really bad," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Thursday night on his weekly radio show.

So expect the Terps to better defend freshman Rasheed Sulaimon, who hit six 3-pointers on his way to a career-high 25 points. All five Duke starters scored in double figures. On Saturday, Maryland will try to counter Duke's cohesive starting unit with depth, emotion and the urgency implied by the Blue Devils' College Park swan song.

Turgeon's first taste of Duke at Comcast last year reminded him of his personal nirvana, the atmosphere at his alma mater, Kansas.

"Our crowd last year at home versus Duke, Gary Williams night, was the closest thing, right there, to Allen Fieldhouse that I've seen," Turgeon said. "It was an amazing night."

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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