People have called the Duke-North Carolina rivalry the greatest in sports.
Maryland thinks it has discovered one that is even better: Duke-Maryland.
For years, there was no Duke-Maryland rivalry, despite the fact that the Terrapins treated their two annual matchups with Duke as the most important on their slate.
The rivalry was non-existent, for one school at least, because the Blue Devils dominated year in and year out, posting a one-sided 23-4 record against Maryland beginning in February of 1988.
In fact, after his first 10 seasons as the Terrapins' coach, Gary Williams had yet to bring home a victory following a trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Then came Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2000-Williams' first career victory in Cameron, and Duke's first home loss to anyone in 46 home games.
A rivalry was beginning to brew, but to many people across the nation and even in the ACC, it was still sitting on the backburner.
"I think it's a great rivalry and it's a rivalry that probably hasn't gotten the attention it deserves the last few years," Jason Williams said before leaving to play Maryland in the Final Four in Minneapolis, Minn.
This season, Duke and Maryland garnered all kinds of attention after the first Instant Classic between the two teams. For the first 39 minutes of action, it appeared as if nothing out of the ordinary was in store-just the second straight Terps' triumph in the regular-season series.
But when Williams devastated Maryland fans with one of the most miraculous few-second stretches of basketball, a lawsuit-instigating melee erupted between the Terps' faithful and the parents of Duke's players. Even though the ensuing focus was directed more toward an investigation and chastising of Maryland than it was to the vintage matchup that had taken place, suddenly all eyes were on College Park, Md.
Beyond the publicity lent to the injuries sustained by the mothers of Williams, Carlos Boozer and Chris Duhon, people started to learn that the way these teams feel about each other falls a little bit short of friendly competition.
"It's just sad. I don't mind the cheers-'Williams, you suck' or whatever-but when it gets to physical violence, that's not acceptable," Duke's point guard said.
In the second episode of the Duke-Maryland saga, even the typically composed Mike Krzyzewski lost his cool. His halftime collision with Gary Williams demonstrated that the contempt of the once non-existent rivalry was no longer one-sided.
It was clear that for whatever reason-perhaps because of the mayhem in College Park or maybe to avenge their streak-snapping defeat of a year prior-the Blue Devils had circled their home date with Maryland on their calendars.
Still, for the second straight season, it was Williams and the Terps who prevailed on national television in Cameron. Like the debacle in College Park, Maryland's victory in Cameron pitted one basketball program against the opposition's home fans. Terps forward Tahj Holden and Duke students exchanged a verbal volley and a series of shoves when Maryland's players tried to celebrate on the centercourt crest.
"I don't think there's a lot of love between us," Shane Battier said. "That's probably the best way to put it."
Of course, like with Duke and Carolina, there are exceptions to the rules. Despite the animosity held toward Maryland's fans, some of the Blue Devils have been able to distance their feelings for their opponents from the violence of College Park.
Williams even roomed last summer with Steve Blake, who played with Duke's point guard on the United States junior national team. The two maintain they are friends off the court, but their feelings for each other have certainly not shown through on it.
"When we play against each other, we just go at it," Blake said. "We don't talk before the game, we don't talk during the game."
After the semifinals of the ACC Championships, it became equally evident that the players do not talk much after the games. Blake and a few others did wish each other good luck in the NCAA tournament, parting ways by saying they would meet again in Minneapolis. But in a surprising occurrence that has been discussed a few times since Duke's last-second triumph in Atlanta earlier this month, many of the players on each team did not shake the hands of their opponents when the final buzzer sounded.
Krzyzewski downplayed what took place after Nate James stunned the Terps for the second time in a month-and-a-half on a buzzer-beating tap-in.
"We all knew that game was a special basketball game," Krzyzewski said. "When competitors know that, whether it be on the playground or in front of a national audience, when that game is over, you don't need anybody to clap, you don't need it to be written about, viewed or heard. You could sense that everyone felt that."