In 1981, the ACC was a radically different conference as you’ll soon see in the intro of this video. It extended from Atlanta to College Park, Md., and even the best players rarely left before their junior years.
Mike Krzyzewski was finishing his first season at Duke with the Blue Devils #5 and headed for the NIT before two consecutive 10-win seasons, the Concerned Iron Dukes and the rest of the early days of the Coach K era.
In this game, in the 1981 ACC Tournament, you’ll see first Packer & Thacker (and Bones McKinney), the legendary broadcasting crew, and then you’ll see Maryland just absolutely destroy Ralph Sampson and #1 Virginia.
Maryland was #4 in the ACC and a borderline NCAA Tournament team (the tournament was then limited to 48 teams).
Maryland just kicked Virginia’s #1 ass up and down the court. It’s astonishing because not only did Virginia have Sampson, it had Jeff Lamp, Lee Raker and Othell Wilson.
Maryland however had Albert King, Greg Manning, Ernest Graham and most of all Buck Williams. Williams, who at 6-8 was eight inches shorter than Sampson, was an absolute warrior who never backed down and who always went straight at Sampson. If Ralph had had his heart, he would have been unstoppable.
We skimmed through this video but haven’t watched the whole thing yet. There were times in college when Williams just dominated Sampson. If you’re lucky, this is one of those.
Two final notes: Maryland (of course) lost to UNC in the finals by one point. Before Maryland hated Duke, they hated UNC although perhaps not as intensely. This was after the Terrapins had advocated to have the tournament moved to the DC area rather than Greensboro to be more fair to Maryland and Virginia.
In other words, after pushing to move the tournament closer to College Park, the Terps just lost to a North Carolina school again anyway.
And second, buried on the roster was freshmen Herman Veal, who would later emerge as the central figure in one of the biggest Duke-Maryland controversies to every occur and which led to the famous and pivotal “Uncle Terry” letter from Duke’s then-president Terry Sanford.