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|Did you know that nine out of every 10 Americans own at least one t-shirt that they refuse to throw away due to sentimental value?
As March Madness looms, wistful Maryland men’s basketball fans may be brushing the dust off of their old team t-shirts reminiscent of the Terps’ glory days. Now, however, fans have something to celebrate all over again as the team’s present connects to its successful past.
The Terrapins are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years. This has ignited a wave of pride and nostalgia in College Town as fans relive the team’s victorious history.
On Feb 24., the Terps came out on top in their game against Wisconsin. The final score was 59-53, Terps. An eager, sellout crowed stormed the court at Xfinity Center in celebration of the team’s win. The Terps were about to become part of the national top 10 for the first time in nearly a dozen years.
“It’s a scene I’ll always cherish,” the university’s president, Wallace Loh, recalled. “That was the coming-out party.”
In that instant, the energy in College Park was that of the basketball town it had been at the peak of the Gary Williams era, when the Terps made 11 consecutive NCAA tournaments and frequently ranked in the top 10 in the country for home attendance.
And that’s not the only reason why fans are celebrating.
Brenda Frese’s women’s program is also doing well. The women’s team crested, making a No. 1 regional seed more than likely after an undefeated debut run through the Big Ten conference and a Final Four appearance last year. Currently, Maryland is the only school with top 10 rankings for both men’s and women’s Associated Press polls.
This is quite a different story from just last year at this time, when the Maryland men’s team did not make the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight time, including the very first three years of coach Mark Turgeon’s tenure. Needless to say, fans were not happy and spoke of ousting Turgeon when five scholarship players left to play for other colleges.
Now, however, as the Terps celebrate making it to the NCAA, student and fan interest has been renewed and is stronger than ever. Ticket sales are up again, and boosters are hoping for a run of glory that similar to the one Williams started nearly 20 year ago.
“It’s like a magic elixir,” said Barry Gossett, one of the university’s top donors and vice chair of the university system’s Board of Regents. “It just amplifies everything that’s good about the university and allows people to see it more clearly.”