Maryland (happily) back on that bubble again

February 21, 2009 | Drew Forrester

With today’s shocker over UNC, Gary Williams and the Terps are once again balancing on familiar turf — the proverbial tournament “bubble”, where they are likely to stay for the next three weeks until the ACC tournament rolls around.  

In all fairness to Maryland, today’s win doesn’t do anything for them if they can’t win two of their final four games in the conference.  They have Duke and Wake Forest at home and North Carolina State and Virginia on the road.

Time to call it like it is:  If Maryland can’t go 2-2 – by any combination – in those four games, they don’t deserve entry into March Madness.  

Even then, if 2-2 is the best they can do, 19 wins might not be enough.  It might – MIGHT – take them going 3-1 in the last four to hit 9-7 in conference play and 20 wins overall to get a NCAA tourney bid.

Still, today’s victory can’t be downplayed.  They beat one of the best teams in the country today.  In fact, they may have just knocked off the BEST team in the country.  UNC will be the “circled” team in a lot of your NCAA brackets in March, if you know what I mean.  

The win this afternoon also puts on full display the “yin and yang” of the ’08-09 Terps squad.  They’re good at home and horrible on the road.  Other than a flukey, “fugly” win at Georgia Tech a few weeks back, Maryland has been a sure-fire-loss away from Comcast Center this year.  At home, though, they’ve been a different team.  Better to play Duke and Wake at home than on the road, anyway, but especially now, with their life on the line.  

The version of Greivis Vasquez that showed up today will have to be the same one who plays the final four games of the conference schedule if Maryland is going to go anywhere.  Vasquez poured in 35 and was the game’s dominant player.  In case you forgot, the Tar Heels have a few kids who can play.

And all the Gary-bashers got a mouthful of turtle soup today when the Terps rallied from 16-down to shock “the other Williams” and his band of hot-shots. 

Amidst all the controversy surrounding Gary this year, there’s been one constant theme:  This could be one of his best coaching jobs ever, considering the player selection he has at his disposal.  Yes, he recruited them.  Yes, he’s responsible for the team.  In good times – and in bad times.  Sure, a few of those road blow-outs this year reeked of no-heart more than no-skill, but that can’t take away from today’s performance against the Tar Heels.

Maryland is alive.

Today was “good times”.