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Maryland-Duke Rivalry Reheated

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Feb. 18
Over the years, there have been many fantastic rivalries in college basketball.

Of course North Carolina-Duke is always special. And Louisville-Kentucky, Kansas-Missouri and Purdue-Indiana are always rivalries to think about.

But right now, with Mike Krzyzewski and Gary Williams strolling the sidelines, the Maryland-Duke rivalry is as intense and competitive as it gets.

I can't wait for the renewal Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils come home with momentum after snapping a four-game road losing streak, winning Saturday night at Virginia.

The Dukies got a big game from diaper dandy Shelden Williams, with 20 points and four blocked shots. He provided inside scoring -- something that's been missing in the Blue Devils arsenal. Coach K's squad had been perimeter oriented.

Duke also got a solid performance from Dahntay Jones. Who, in recent road losses against Wake Forest and Florida State, went a combined one for 22 from the field. When guys like Jones and Chris Duhon aren't shooting well, it's lights out for the Dukies.

To beat Maryland, they'll have to be sensational. Although Duke has won 25 straight at home, the last time the Cameron Crazies suffered an L, was against the Terps and Juan Dixon in Feb. of 2001.

The Blue Devils have been brilliant at home this season with an impressive 18.8 ppg average margin of victory. The team gets an adrenaline rush from their fans. The energy, enthusiasm and excitement is felt by the players. They feed off of it and perform at a higher level.

Williams' Terps won't be afraid of or intimidated by any arena they step into. They will always come to play and give it their best shot. That team reflects the emotion and personality of its coach -- Williams is a flat-out winner.

Think about the talent that left these two programs after last season. How many programs could lose three players each to the NBA (Maryland lost Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter and Chris Wilcox; Duke lost Jay Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy) and still compete to be in the top 10-15 in America? That says it all about Krzyzewski and Williams, baby! They reload and expect nothing but productivity. Their standard of excellence is high, the bar set is high.

Duke has something to prove after the first meeting. The Blue Devils entered the Comcast Center with the No. 1 ranking and left with an L. Maryland rallied from a six-point halftime deficit and won 87-72.

Drew Nicholas, Ryan Randle, Steve Blake and Co. came through. Nicholas, who finished with 24 points, did a great job shutting down diaper dandy J.J. Redick in the second half. Randle cleaned the glass and pulled down 17 rebounds. Gary's Gang was celebrating big time.

This has been a wacky season across America. The ACC race is wild. Cameron Indoor Stadium will be rocking and rolling Wednesday night. It will be a special environment with lots of enthusiasm and spirit. Can the Dukies gain a measure of revenge against the Terps?

I can't wait to find out, baby!

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