Maryland Terps

Quick Links

Terrapins 2002 title team continued its NCAA title run with blowout of Wisconsin 18 years ago

Terrapins 2002 title team continued its NCAA title run with blowout of Wisconsin 18 years ago

Maryland’s men’s basketball team will never know how it would have fared in the 2020 NCAA Tournament. 

The coronavirus pandemic will always leave this year’s group wondering what might have been. But the 2002 Terrapins don’t have to worry about that. Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter, Steve Blake and that Maryland team won the national title and hung a banner that still hangs at Xfinity Center. 

So maybe it’s good to look back on that squad, which also featured Chris Wilcox and Byron Mouton and Drew Nicholas and Tahj Holden and Ryan Randle, among others. Not a McDonald’s All-American among them. But they won the tournament anyway. 

On this date 18 years ago, those Terrapins played their final “home” game of the season. It was at MCI Arena in downtown Washington, not at Cole Field House, which they had shut down earlier in the month with a resounding, emotional 112-92 win over Virginia. MCI wasn’t the same, but on March 17, 2002 Maryland played Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at its home-away-from-home, where it had played at least two games a year each of the previous five seasons. 

It was a memorable Sunday afternoon as the Terrapins’ march to a championship continued. After beating No. 16 Siena in the first round 85-70, No. 1 seed Maryland (27-4), the ACC regular-season champion, faced No. 8 seed Wisconsin. The Badgers weren’t especially good at 18-13 overall entering the game, but they did finish in a three-way tie for first place in the Big 10 with Illinois and the Indiana team the Terrapins would see later on in the tournament. 

It figured to be a close game even with Maryland’s home-court advantage. The two teams had met the year before early in the 2000-01 season at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.  It was a true classic. Wisconsin held on for a 78-75 overtime win. Blake hit a 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation to tie it. Instead, the tournament game was a blood bath, possibly the best game the Terrapins played the entire run. Dixon scored 29 points for the second game in a row and in the process passed Len Bias as the program’s all-time leading scorer. The final was 87-57. It was a sign that this Terrapins team had completely put the crushing 2001 Final Four loss to Duke behind it. It appeared immune to pressure. 

Maryland had a half time lead of 38-30. But it outscored the Badgers 49-27 in the second half. It was on to the Sweet 16 and the East Regional semifinals against No. 4 seed Kentucky and a rousing send-off from the local fans. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE NCAA NEWS: 

Quick Links

Reggie Bush thinks ex-Terp RB Anthony McFarland could be better than Le'Veon Bell

Reggie Bush thinks ex-Terp RB Anthony McFarland could be better than Le'Veon Bell

Former University of Maryland running back Anthony McFarland played just 23 games with the Terps, but what he put on tape during that short span was enough to convince one former star running back that he has the tools to be very successful in the NFL.

Reggie Bush, whose name is included in any shortlist for the best running back in college football history, was asked on Monday about the 2020 running back class during an appearance on Fox Football Now. Bush specifically praised McFarland, who the Pittsburgh Steelers used a fourth-round pick on in April's draft, and thinks the former Terp can be better than a recent Steelers star.

"I think he has the ability to be just as good as Le'Veon Bell, if not better," Bush said.

That's high praise for McFarland, considering Bell is one of the best running backs in Steelers history. During his six seasons with Pittsburgh, Bell made three Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro twice. Only three other Steelers -- Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker -- have more rushing yards in franchise history.

One thing that stood out to Bush considerably when watching the former Terps star's film was McFarland's big-play ability.

"The kid can flat-out fly," Bush said. "He's explosive. He is a game-breaking type of player."

In an interview with the Redskins Talk podcast prior to the draft, McFarland explained that he, too, feels like he's a home run threat every time he touches the ball.

"No matter where I'm at in the field, I always believe every play is the big play," he said. "And that's the thing about I feel like me playing running back because I feel like literally, every single play is a big play and it can happen anytime."

The best example of this is from McFarland's 2018 outing against Ohio State, without a doubt the best game of his collegiate career. McFarland finished with a career-high 298 rushing yards on 21 carries with two touchdowns, one an 81-yard scamper and the other from 75-yards out.

In Pittsburgh, McFarland is expected to be a complement to James Conner, who has been the team's starter since 2018. Bush believes that the run-style the Steelers use will certainly benefit the rookie in 2020.

"The Pittsburgh Steelers love to run the football. But it's the way they love to run the football, they use those tackles and tight ends and they pull," Bush said. "What that does is for running backs is, if they just get a crease...Anthony McFarland, if he just gets a crease, he's gone."

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NCAA NEWS:

Quick Links

Former Maryland football coach Roy Lester dies of coronavirus complications

Former Maryland football coach Roy Lester dies of coronavirus complications

Roy Lester, who coached at the University of Maryland from 1969 to 1971, died at the age of 96 on Sunday due to complications from the coronavirus, his family announced. 

Lester's two-year stint leading the Terrapins wasn't as fruitful as his run as a high school coach at Richard Montgomery High School in Montgomery County, Maryland.

During the 1960s, Lester helped lead Richard Montgomery to six undefeated seasons and an 86-10-1 record, according to The Washington Post. 

Following his dominant run, Lester took the job at Maryland, where he was first an assistant coach from 1954 to 1956. But his stay as the head coach was short-lived as a woeful 7-25 record led to his departure.

Still, Lester had successes during his tenure with the Terps. His most notable achievement was recruiting future NFL Hall of Famer Randy White to play for the Terps. White went on to star for the Dallas Cowboys after the team selected him with the No. 2 pick in the 1975 draft.

After Maryland relieved Lester of his duties, he returned to the high school ranks. Lester finished his career with stops at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, Maryland, and Magruder High School in Rockville, Maryland. He led Paint Branch to a Class B state championship in 1975 and Magruder to state championships in 1984 and 1986. 

Lester was inducted into the Maryland Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1996. Richard Mongomery named its field "Roy Lester Stadium" in 2002. And West Virginia University, Lester's alma mater, inducted him into its sports hall of fame in 2008.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NCAA NEWS: