Rejoice, Ravens, Orioles, Commanders fans and everyone in between! The state of Maryland is approving mobile sports betting and DraftKings Sportsbook will be available for residents on Monday, 11/21 from 2 PM - 10 p.m. ET for an Early Access period. After the Early Access period, the full launch date for the DraftKings Sportsbook App will be 11/23.
In honor of the Maryland launch, we will be reliving some of the biggest sports moments in state history over the next week. Check out the first two articles from this series, which recapped the Ravens’ magical 2012-13 Super Bowl run and Cal Ripken Jr.’s legendary career. Now, let’s dive into the magical 2002 March Madness run by the Maryland Terrapins.
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Relive the Terrapins’ 2002 March Madness Championship
Before we dive into Maryland’s incredible 2002 season, we have to travel all the way back to June of 1989, when the Terrapins hired alumnus Gary Williams as their new men’s basketball coach. Everything the Terrapins accomplished during Williams’ tenure likely would not have happened without him there.
Flash forward to 2002. Williams and the Terrapins were coming off their first Final Four appearance in school history, but the team’s run ended on a sour note. As all diehard Terrapins remember, they lost to Duke in what is known as the “Gone in 54 Seconds” game, as the Blue Devils pulled off a miraculous comeback with less than a minute left to advance.
The Terrapins came out red-hot in the 2001-02 season, dominating en route to a 32-4 record. That squad was led by senior Juan Dixon, who averaged 20.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Dixon was supported by three other double-digit scorers, Lonny Baxter, Chris Wilcox, and Byron Mouton. Baxter and Wilcox were monsters on the boards, combining for over 15 rebounds per game.
The Terrapins finished 1st in the ACC and 4th in the final AP Poll, earning the No. 1 seed in the East Region of the national tournament. Maryland cruised through the first five rounds of March Madness, winning each contest by at least eight points. That included a massive 97-88 win over No. 2 Kansas, which featured a fantastic comeback after the Terrapins fell behind early.
Now, all that was left between Maryland and that elusive first national title was Indiana. The Terrapins controlled virtually every facet of the national championship, leading for the entire game except one point around the 10-minute mark in the second half. The Terrapins responded to falling behind with a 22-8 run to clinch the title. Gary Williams finally earned his first ring, and Juan Dixon won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.
Just like that, the Terrapins were relieved of all the pressure they were facing throughout the season. No longer were they considered one of the best teams to never win a title.
On April 1, 2002, the Terrapins etched their names into college basketball history.
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