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The NCAA Tournament History of the Maryland Terrapins

As the Terrapins look to add to their NCAA history, let’s take a look back at the school’s accomplishments.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional Practice
Juan Dixon led the Terrapins to a title in 2002.
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland Terrapins have a long history of NCAA Tournament appearances and play.

Maryland first appeared in 1958 and has collected 26 total NCAA Tournament appearances. Their overall record in the tournament stands at 40-24. In those 26 appearances, the Terrapins have collected 14 Sweet Sixteens, 4 Elite Eights, 2 Final Fours and 1 National Championship (2002).

Let's take a look back at the NCAA history the Terrapins have put together in their program history.

Old History: (1957-1968)

The first NCAA Tournament for Maryland in 1957-58 came on the heels of a surprising season.

Under the coaching of Bud Millikan, the Terrapins compiled a 22-7 mark, and shockingly won the ACC Tournament championship with victories over Duke and North Carolina.

In the 24-team NCAA Tournament, Maryland reached the Sweet Sixteen with an 86-63 victory over Boston College. The Terrapins dropped the next game to the Temple Owls, but beat Manhattan to earn third place in their region.

It would be another 15 years under Maryland returned to the NCAA Tournament.

The Lefty Dreisell Era: (1969-1986)

Maryland legendary coach Lefty Dreisell returned the program to prominence by advancing the Terps to the Elite Eight in 1973. Maryland earned another Elite Eight birth in 1975. The deep tournament success was somewhat fleeting as the Terrapins didn’t earn another Elite Eight trip until 2001.

That didn’t mean they weren’t successful. Dreisell had Maryland in the NCAA Tournament 7 out of 10 years during the 1980s (1980, ‘81, ‘83, ‘84, ‘85, ‘86 and ‘88). Four times they were seeded at no. 5 or above. During this prolific stretch, the Terrapins collected three Sweet Sixteen trips, and some close excruciating losses. 4 out of the 7 losses during this stretch were by two possessions or less.

Dreisell resigned from Maryland in 1986 in the events surrounding the tragic death of Len Bias. Maryland had an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1988, but then would not appear again until an old player from the Bud Millikan era stalked the sidelines: Gary Williams.

The Gary Williams Era: (1989-2010)

Williams returned Maryland to the NCAA Tournament in 1994. This would kick off the longest streak in school history of consecutive NCAA Tournaments. The Terps made the tournament every year from 1994-2004. 7 of those 11 times they were a 4-seed or better.

For the first half of that consecutive streak, anything beyond the Sweet Sixteen remained elusive. The Terps made the Sweet Sixteen in (‘94, ‘95, ‘98 and ‘99). That coupled with first round upsets (‘96, ‘97) had people questioning if Williams would ever break through.

The magical runs of 2001 and 2002 changed that.

Maryland entered the 2001 NCAA Tournament as a 3-seed and narrowly avoided a first round upset against George Mason. Double digit wins over the 11-seed Georgia State and the 10-seed Georgetown had Maryland in the Elite Eight.

The top-seeded Stanford Cardinal awaited to go to the Final Four. Behind 24 points from Lonny Baxter, Maryland defeated Stanford 87-73.

Awaiting in the Final Four were the Duke Blue Devils. Unfortunately for the Terps, they would lose to Duke for a third time that season 95-84. The Blue Devils would go on to win the championship. The Terrapins would be back the next season.

The 2001-02 Maryland Terrapins had a lot of hype. They were a Final Four squad that returned five seniors and four juniors. Maryland opened up no. 2 on the season.

The Terps lived up to the hype.

Maryland went 25-3 (15-1) during the season and won the ACC by two games over Duke. They tripped up in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, but easily received a no. 1 seed.

The Terrapins won their first three games in the tournament all by double-digits, including a 30-point beatdown of Wisconsin in the round of 32.

Maryland then beat Kentucky, Connecticut and Kansas to reach the title game against a surprise Indiana team under Mike Davis. The Hoosiers would take the lead with under 10 minutes to play, but Maryland closed strong to win 64-52. It was the first and only NCAA Tournament championship in school history. All-American and 2002 NCAA Tournament MVP Juan Dixon led the way with 18 points.

Coach Williams was never able to return to the heights of that 2001-02 season. Maryland returned to the Sweet Sixteen the following season, but ran into Michigan State on their way to a Final Four.

The best squad of the later years for Williams was probably the 2009-10 team. The Terps were ACC Regular Season Co-Champions and earned a no. 4 seed in the Midwest regional. The Terps beat Houston easily and again played Michigan State in the Round of 32. Tom Izzo again got the best of Gary Williams as the Terps lost 85-83.

Williams would retire from coaching after the 2010-11 season. While he suffered some heartbreak in the tournament, the magical runs of 2001 and 2002 will remain in Maryland lore for all-time.

The Mark Turgeon Era: (2011-present)

Current Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon would rebuild the Terrapins in his first three years in College Park. By the 2014-15 season, the Terps were ready to return to the NCAA field. The Terrapins reached the Round of 32 under Turgeon that season and then followed that up with a Sweet Sixteen the following season.

This year’s Terrapins are a no. 6 seed playing the no. 11 seed Xavier Musketeers on Thursday evening. A potential second round match up awaits from the Florida State Seminoles.

Having reached the Sweet Sixteen last year, Turgeon is in a similar situation to the Maryland coaches before him. Here’s hoping he will have his Gary Williams moment in the not so distant future.