Terps in the big dance? My official prediction is…

March 15, 2009 | Drew Forrester

It’s tough for me to change now, so I won’t.  It was a helluva run for Maryland in Atlanta and they came within a few minutes of bumping Duke out of the tournament and taking on Florida State today for the ACC title.

Had they done that, I would have ushered in the Terps without question.

But, they didn’t beat Duke.  All along, after that disaster in Charlottesville eight days ago, I said the Terps would have to win three times in the ACC tournament to convince me they were worthy of dancing with the other 64 teams.  

Maybe I’m just tougher on Maryland because I’ve seen them play more than I’ve seen, say, Dayton…or Arizona…or Auburn…or any of the other “bubble teams” that will be watching the selection show on the edge of their seat today. 

I’ve seen Maryland look tournament “unworthy” more than tournament “worthy” if you look at their full body of work.  I saw them beat Vermont in overtime when coach Mike Lonergan could have wrapped up the game in the final seconds by fouling instead of allowing Greivis Vasquez to tie the game with a 3-pointer.  I saw them lose to Morgan State.  I saw them squander big leads at Miami and at home against Boston College.  They beat North Carolina in overtime when their best player had the best game of his life.  Then, they lost at home to Duke and Wake Forest and laid a dinosaur-sized egg in their season finale at UVA to finish the regular season 7-9.  

They weasled their way past North Carolina State on Thursday night in the ACC tourney opener and then embarrassed an obviously uninterested Wake Forest team on Friday.  By the way, on a different note, if that’s the type of performance Dino Gaudio’s team is going to give him in the NCAA tournament, he’ll be home in Winston-Salem next Saturday morning.  

But, when they had to win ONE more game, they couldn’t.  Sure, 3-games-in-3-days is tough on anyone and it’s asking a lot for a team to outplay their opponent when the other team (Duke) hasn’t faced the same arduous schedule.  

That’s why they needed to beat Virginia last weekend.  None of this would have mattered.

Like I wrote above, perhaps I’m just too hard on the Terps because I’ve seen them up close and personal for the last four months.  Maybe Auburn squandered some big leads too.  For all I know, Arizona was as up and down as Maryland.    

Thank God I’m not on the tournament committee, because I think I’d vote “nay” when the subject of Maryland comes up later this afternoon.  They couldn’t beat the 2nd worst team in the conference last Saturday when they knew a win would get them in.  

That said…

Maryland’s going to get in today.

They’ll be a 10 seed.  And, they’ll play 7-seed Illinois in the first round of the tournament on Friday.  After that, they’ll play the winner of Missouri (3) vs. Binghamton (14) in the round of 32 – if they beat Illinois.

That’s my guess.  I don’t have an open line to the tournament committee or anything.

In fact, it’s a good thing that I don’t have the means to communicate with the committee.

On a personal note, I really do hope Maryland gets in.  If nothing else, Gary Williams deserves it after the grief he’s absorbed this year – some of which, of course, he brought upon himself.  On the whole, though, I think it would serve as a just reward for Williams, who stood by his beleaguered team day-in and day-out and, along with Vasquez, never gave up.  

Here’s hoping they’re in.