On the heels of an alarming three-game losing streak to finish the regular season, Maryland had to wait for Sunday’s conference action to learn who it would play in the first round of the ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
With Miami falling to Georgia Tech on Sunday, the Terps (18-13, 7-9 ACC) discovered they would play as the No. 7 seed against N.C. State, who fell to Florida State on Sunday evening. Maryland will play the Wolfpack in the conference tournament for the first time since 2009 when the Terps prevailed in another first-round matchup.
Knowing they have no chance for at-large consideration after finishing with a losing record in a down year for the ACC, the Terps’ mission this coming weekend is quite clear if they want to avoid their fourth trip to the NIT in seven years and advance to the NCAA tournament:
Win the entire thing.
Maryland has not won the ACC tournament since 2004 when John Gilchrist earned Most Valuable Player honors by leading the sixth-seeded Terps to wins over Wake Forest, N.C. State, and Duke to cut down the nets in Greensboro. That 2004 edition would mark the end of the nine-team format that included a play-in game between the bottom two in the league and only three rounds in what amounted to an easier path for lower-seeded teams to make a run to the championship.
“I know no team has ever won four games down there since the expansion [in 2005],” Gary Williams said after Saturday’s 74-60 loss to Virginia. “At the same time, we are going down there to try to win the thing. We will see what happens.”
Maryland won the only meeting between the schools in the regular season, an 87-80 final at Comcast Center on Feb. 20. The Terps have not lost to the Wolfpack since Feb. 5, 2006 and have won eight consecutive meetings.
The last time N.C. State defeated Maryland in the ACC tournament was in 2002 in what was the Terps’ final loss of the season on their way to the national championship.
Should the Terps get past N.C. State on Thursday, they would get a third meeting against Duke who twice beat Maryland in the regular season.
Here’s the schedule for the entire tournament, which runs Thursday through Sunday at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Thursday - 1st Round
No. 8 Virginia vs. No. 9 Miami, Noon (ACC Network)
No. 5 Boston College vs. No. 12 Wake Forest, 2:00 (ACC Network)
No. 7 Maryland vs. No. 10 N.C. State, 7:00 (ESPN2)
No. 6 Virginia Tech vs. No. 11 Georgia Tech, 9:00 (ACC Network)
Friday - Quarterfinals
No. 1 North Carolina vs. winner of Virginia/Miami, Noon (ACC Network/ESPN2)
No. 4 Clemson vs. winner of Boston College/Wake Forest, 2:00 (ACC Network/ESPN2)
No. 2 Duke vs. winner of Maryland/N.C. State, 7:00 (ACC Network/ESPN2)
No. 3 Florida State vs. winner of Virginia Tech/Georgia Tech, 9:00 (ACC Network/ESPN2)
Saturday - Semifinals
1st Semifinal, 1:00 (ACC Network, ESPN)
2nd Semifinal, 3:00 (ACC Network, ESPN)
Sunday - Final
Championship, 1:00 (ACC Network, ESPN)