Saturday, January 19, 2008

Boom Goes That Undefeated Season

Heel. F-ing. Yes. Well that was fun.

After watching Maryland polish off Wake Forest on Tuesday night, I told my girlfriend I'd be watching Maryland beat North Carolina on Saturday afternoon if she wanted to join me.

On Thursday, I asked her, "What are you doing on Saturday at 3:30?" Without missing a beat, she responded, "Watching Maryland beat North Carolina." She even put it in her planner.

Only an idiot or an eternal optimist thought Maryland -- an 18-point underdog against an 18-0 team on the road -- had much of a chance against the Tar Heels. I'm a little bit of both.

When UNC alum Antawn Jamison was asked about his thoughts on the game following the Wizards' win over the Knicks on Friday night, he broke into a huge grin and said, "I'm smiling; tomorrow's going to be an easy one."

Not so much. Five minutes into the game, it was clear North Carolina wouldn't mop the floor with Greivis Vasquez's facial hair and cruise to another 30-plus point win -- a moral victory of sorts for the Terps. Still, Vasquez was making careless decisions with the ball, James Gist was taking ill-advised 3-pointers (who the hell does he think he is, Oleksiy Pecherov?), and one couldn't help but think that the Terps' six-point halftime lead should've -- and this is ludicrous to type -- been even greater.

But Vasquez settled down in the second half, Gist did his thing inside, Boom Osby continued to play like a beast, and Maryland got major contributions from Landon Milbourne, Cliff Tucker and Eric Hayes, who returned from an ankle injury to drain two huge threes. Had Tyler Hansbrough made that game-winning 3-point attempt at the buzzer, Maryland still would've left Chapel Hill with the confidence that it could play with any team in the country. Instead, with Gary Williams' seventh win over a No. 1 team, they left with that confidence and more, including a push closer to the outer fringes of the NCAA tournament bubble.

My girlfriend and I both enjoyed the shots of UNC coeds crying afterward. "All of them have bad skin," she told me. Ouch.

Vasquez's post-game interview with Steve Lavin was classic, especially the part when he wanted people to know that, while at times it seems he wants to do everything himself (No, it never seems like that, Greivis!) , it's not about him, it's about the team, it's about Maryland men's basketball.


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