Tough as it is to believe, Maryland will play the nation's No. 1 team for the first time in nearly three years on Sunday when it visits 14-0 Duke.
Things went well the last time the Terrapins visited a top-ranked Triangle foe, upending North Carolina 82-80.
Only three players --- Adrian Bowie, Dino Gregory and Cliff Tucker --- remain from the roster that pulled off that upset. Gregory didn't play that day (though he made a cameo earlier that year against then-No. 1 UCLA), but he understands as well as nearly any of his teammates there's something a bit different about facing the nation's top team.
"You try to keep it the same, but it's not the same," Gregory said. "They're the No. 1 team in the country and you know that coming in. You see that on TV watching different college games. Your game comes on during a commercial break. You try to think it's a regular game, but it's not. It's the No. 1 team in the nation. Not many players get the chance to do that, so we're all excited about this opportunity and we're going to try to take advantage of it."
The rest of Maryland's veterans have played meaningful games --- home-and-homes with Duke, victories over North Carolina the last few seasons, the ACC tournament upset of Wake Forest and NCAA tournament losses to Memphis and Michigan State --- but never against No. 1.
So it will be a new experience --- but not something too unusual.
"It's different," guard Sean Mosley said. "You're playing Duke at [their] home, a tough environment, and they're theNo. 1 team in the country. But you try to just approach them as a normal team. We watch mroe video, because its ACC [play] now, just to try to get familiar with the offense and the guys that they have. So just coming out here and having that energy playing at Duke is one thing you try to do as a team. You don't try to come out here and do things you don't normally do."
It certainly isn't anything out of the ordinary for coach Gary Williams, who has averaged roughly one meeting with a No. 1 team during his 22-year run at Maryland. The Terps are 6-16 against top-ranked teams under Williams, including four wins in their last seven tries (see chart below).
Predictably, Williams isn't attempting to play up any facet of Maryland-vs.-No. 1 --- instead letting others do it for him.
"What's different is you're playing the No. 1 team in the country," Williams said. "The obvious thing is different, and the players know that. You don't do anything else in terms of 'We have to do this because we're playing the No. 1 team in the country.' You make adjustments because of how Duke plays, what they do defensively [and] offensively, just like you would any other game. Now, the fact they're No. 1, that puts the other stuff on the game. We don't have to do that. People do that for us."
MARYLAND vs. No. 1 UNDER GARY WILLIAMS (6-16)
1992: Duke 83, @Maryland 66
1992: @Duke 91, Maryland 89
1992: Duke 94, Maryland 87 (ACC quarterfinals)
1993: North Carolina 102, Maryland 66 (ACC quarterfinals)
1994: @North Carolina 95, Maryland 89
1995: @North Carolina 100, Maryland 90
1995: @Maryland 86, North Carolina 73
1996: Kentucky 96, Maryland 84 (Springfield, Mass. --- November 1995)
1998: @Maryland 89, North Carolina 83, OT
1998: @Duke 86, Maryland 59
1998: @North Carolina 85, Maryland 67
1998: North Carolina 83, Maryland 73, OT (ACC semifinals)
2001: @North Carolina 96, Maryland 82
2001: Duke 95, Maryland 84 (NCAA semifinals)
2002: @Duke 99, Maryland 78
2002: @Maryland 87, Duke 73
2003: @Maryland 87, Duke 72
2004: Maryland 69, @Florida 68, OT (December 2003)
2004: Duke 68, @Maryland 60
2006: @Duke 76, Maryland 52
2008: UCLA 71, Maryland 59 (Kansas City, Mo. --- November 2007)
2008: Maryland 82, @North Carolina 80