In 2012, shock waves reverberated throughout the college sports landscape when the Maryland Terrapins announced they’d be moving to the Big Ten Conference in 2014. Fans just couldn’t believe that one of the founding members of the Atlantic Coast Conference would change course like that. Much like how the tortoise refused to be intimidated by the hare, the Terps paid no attention to the chatter and moved forward. The approach worked almost immediately, as the men’s basketball team won 27 games during their first year in the new league.
Regardless of where they play, the Terps are no strangers to championship success. The men’s lacrosse program snared the school’s first title in 1936, and then proceeded to win it all in ‘37, ‘39, and ‘40 as well. They’re not the only laxers on campus taking home top honors, either. The women’s team is a veritable dynasty with multiple NCAA crowns from the ‘80s, ‘90s and the 2000s. Not to be outdone, Maryland field hockey is a force in its own right and has captured national banners in 2005, ‘06, ‘08, ‘10 and ‘11. However, it’s what the university has accomplished on the hardwood that is most celebrated in College Park.
Charles “Lefty” Driesell took over the men’s basketball team in 1969, and upon arrival, got to work at putting the Terps on the map. One of his first feats was the introduction of Midnight Madness. In 1971, Driesell told his squad they’d be training before anyone else in the country, and he wasn’t kidding. At three minutes past midnight on the first day of practice for the season, the Terps were at Byrd Stadium running laps. Fans turned out to watch the session, and a new tradition was born. Since then, Midnight Madness has grown into a massive kickoff party that takes place at nearly every school in the nation.
While Driesell would guide Maryland to eight appearances in the NCAA tournament, including two Elite Eights, it was coach Gary Williams who turned the Terps into a powerhouse. After taking over in 1989, the fiery bench boss won the ACC three times and oversaw 14 trips to the Big Dance. In 2001, he led the school to its first-ever Final Four, and the following year, helped cut down the nets when the Terps took home the national championship. Four years after that monumental win by the men, the Terrapin women’s basketball team captured an NCAA title of their own.
Excellence in College Park isn’t solely limited to the athletes, either. Maryland fans are often referred to as some of the most passionate in the country, thanks to the electric atmosphere that they generate inside of the Xfinity Center. Opposing teams are greeted by legions of newspaper-rattling diehards who aren’t afraid to storm the court. ACC foes breathed a sigh of relief when they found out the Terps were leaving, because it meant that mighty Maryland and its fans would be wreaking havoc on someone else.