WASHINGTON — It's been 20 years since the Maryland men's basketball team won the NCAA tournament. It was the first men's NCAA title for the Terps, as they defeated Indiana 64-52 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
"When the buzzer went off, I remember Juan Dixon trying to hit the ceiling with the basketball," said former head coach Gary Williams. "I would have loved to have held them [Indiana] under 50 points."
That wasn't the only thing coach Williams wished didn't happen.
"As I started walking to shake hands with the other coaches, Kris Wilcox messes up my hair," Williams remembers. "That was a rule we had. Nobody can mess up my hair but Kris broke that rule that day."
The University of Maryland reached the pinnacle of the college basketball world in 2002 when Williams led his alma mater to its first - and only - men's basketball national championship. The Terrapins entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed and defeated the highest possible remaining seed (#8 Wisconsin, #4 Kentucky, #2 UConn, #1 Kansas) in its bracket, before defeating Indiana in the title game.
The team was led by the program's all-time leading scorer, Juan Dixon, who was named the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player, the ACC Player of the Year and an Associated Press First Team All-American. Fellow senior, Lonny Baxter, was named the Regional Most Outstanding Player in both 2001 and 2002, as he helped lead the Terps to back-to-back NCAA Final Four appearances.
The University of Maryland Athletics Department will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Maryland men's basketball program's 2002 NCAA Championship at the Terrapins' Feb. 27 game against Ohio State at 4 p.m. in College Park. Williams, now in the Hall of Fame, and all the former players, including Dixon, Baxter and Steve Blake, are expected to be in attendance.
"They are all coming back," Williams said with a smile. "As soon as they're back, it's like we are back 20 years ago. All the old stories are coming back. The good thing is, they're all doing well. Nobody has a GoFundMe page."
The achievements of the 2002 team's historic title run will be recognized via a number of planned elements throughout the game against Ohio State, including a pre-game "Chat with Legends" for select Terrapin Club members featuring the 2002 team, commemorative t-shirts and newspapers, an in-game recognition and much more.