- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Less than nine miles separate College Park and the Hilltop, Maryland and Georgetown, the two pinnacles of college sports in Washington D.C. Yet for years, their respective men’s basketball programs largely avoided scheduling one another in the regular season, the result of politics and tension between the two athletic departments.

That will change this season. The two programs announced Wednesday that they will meet at the Xfinity Center on Nov. 7 as part of the inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games, a series of eight meetings between the Big Ten and Big East in honor of Big East founder Dave Gavitt. Maryland and Georgetown will then face one another again at the Verizon Center during the 2016-17 season.

“It’s great,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said in a conference call. “Maryland-Georgetown, home-and-home, next two years — it gives people something to talk about. We’re excited. Two great programs, both programs should have good teams. So it’s going to be good for the area. It’s also going to be good for college basketball.”

Times for the two meetings are yet to be announced. The Nov. 7 meeting will be shown on ESPN.

The Terrapins and Hoyas have not played each other in consecutive regular seasons since 1978-79. They have played one regular-season game, albeit on a neutral court, in the two-plus decades since, with Maryland edging Georgetown, 84-83, at the Capital Centre in 1993. They also met in the NCAA tournament in 2001 and the Old Spice Classic in 2008.

“Our programs share a great deal of history,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said in a statement. “Memories of Pops and Lefty, Merlin Wilson and Tom McMillen, Craig Shelton and Buck Williams, Allen Iverson and Joe Smith, Greg Monroe and Greivis Vasquez and many, many more dance in our heads.

“The time is right to make new memories. We are excited.”

When Turgeon took over as Maryland’s coach in 2011, he spoke with Thompson about the possibility of renewing the old rivalry. The coaches agreed they would explore it in a few years, once Turgeon had built his new program. 

Both Maryland and Georgetown will enter the 2015-16 season with plenty of momentum. Each program received a No. 4 seed in last year’s NCAA tournament after spending much of year in the Associated Press Top 25 rankings.

After winning a school-record 26 games in the regular season, the Terrapins reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010, falling to West Virginia in the Round of 32. The Hoyas also made it to the Round of 32, where they lost to Utah.

Geography and common sense would point to an annual series between Georgetown and Maryland, but Turgeon said no meetings beyond the 2016-17 season have been discussed. 

“Let’s be excited about the two years,” he said with a chuckle.

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