Very satisfying 86-60 win yesterday against Wake Forrest at Comcast Center. The goal for this very young Terps team should be to make it to the NCAA Tournament. If they can pull that off, the lessons learned during the process will be invaluable and will position them extremely well for success next year and beyond. The path is clear. At 4-5 in the ACC, the Terps can ensure themselves an invite with a 10-8 conference record. To get there they must win their remaining games against teams even or below them in the standings and can lose once to anyone ahead. 22-9 overall and 10-8 in the ACC will surely get the job done. 21-10 / 9-9 should get them in provided they win one ACC tournament game.
The ACC is tremendously balanced this year and should place six teams in the NCAA. The Terps are that sixth team and the good news is that everyone ahead off them including Duke, is beatable and of the four remaining ACC games against teams ahead of them, three are at home. The challenge will be the same that they’ve faced all year; avoiding turnovers. Tremendous outside shooting (67% for the game yesterday) masked the fact that Maryland turned the ball over 19 times! The Terps are 4th in the nation in opponents field goal percentage and 1st in rebounding. Solid defense and unselfish play will carry you a long way against inferior opponents but the lack of a pure point guard is their Achilles heel.
The plan starts Thursday with a must-win game in Blacksburg against a weakened but dangerous Virginia Tech team. In the first game at Comcast, the Terps stifling defense and excellent outside shooting dominated the undermanned Hokies 94-71 but this time should be much more competitive. The Hokies just lost in OT at North Carolina and were competitive at home before faltering in the second half to #14 Miami. If the Terps can limit Erick Green to his 25 points and stop the rest of the team, they should win the game.
I will give the Terps one loss against an inferior opponent and count on a win against either North Carolina or Virginia at home. This team is going to make it. Go Terps!