Nick Faust considered the question only briefly before delivering as concise and optimistic an answer as could be expected from the sophomore. After Maryland again dropped below .500 in ACC play with its 79-68 loss to North Carolina, suffering just its third home loss this season, what must the Terrapins do to reach the NCAA tournament?
“I hope we win the ACC tournament,” Faust said.
But do you need to?
“I guess, I mean I don’t know. I hope we do.”
Such is the current uncertainty surrounding Maryland, whose players still hold onto faint hopes of a March Madness bid. Needing a solid final week against North Carolina and Virginia to bolster its resume, the Terps instead dropped 12 RPI spots from 71st during pregame to 83rd by the final buzzer, according to WarrenNolan.com’s “Nitty Gritty Report,” which updates live each night.
Here’s where the Terps stand: First they travel to face Virginia on Sunday at John Paul Jones Arena, where zero ACC opponents have won this season. Then comes the conference tournament, where Maryland is currently in line for the No. 6 seed, which would mean a first-round matchup against Wake Forest, given that Clemson holds the tiebreaker over the Demon Deacons for the No. 10 seed. Win that, and it’s onto the quarterfinals to face the third seed – currently North Carolina.
Late Wednesday night, SI.com’s Andy Glockner tweeted that “Maryland now looks like it has to win its next four, or the four after that. #startingtodrawdead.” That would mean either running the table in the ACC tournament after losing to Virginia or reaching the conference championship game, if the Terps score their third ACC road win this season.
“I feel like we have to do really good,” Dez Wells said. “I don’t want to put any pressure on my team by saying that, but I feel like we need to do really good. We all know that. But just take it one game at a time.”
>> In starting James Padgett and Logan Aronhalt on senior night, Coach Mark Turgeon fielded his 13th and oldest lineup this season, the first time that only two underclassmen have started. Aronhalt, who rimmed out an early three-point attempt and never found his shooting groove, started for just the second time this season (South Carolina State).
>> Along with Padgett and Aronhalt, the Terps also honored team managers John Webster, Ricardo Rush and Mike Zawitoski. While Padgett and Aronhalt received framed jerseys, the managers got framed Gatorade towels.
>> Juan Dixon was the evening’s honorary captain. He’s also on Twitter now.
Blessed and honored to be the Honorary Captain at tonight’s game..Wouldn’t be here without #TerpNation
— Juan Dixon (@Juan_Dixon3) March 7, 2013
>> 2014 SF Dwayne Morgan (St. Frances Academy) took in the game with AAU coach Dwayne Wise. The 6-foot-8 four-star prospect will announce his decision on April 5, and recently trimmed his list to five: Maryland, UNLV, Arizona, Georgetown and Connecticut, according to National Recruiting Spotlight.
>> A stocked student section brought the ruckus again, returning some of the dance moves and songs debuted against Duke. They also unfurled a massive Maryland flag that spanned two student sections along “The Wall.”
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