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Choices Far From Clear-Cut

"I would think," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said, "that if we get a win or two, we'd be in pretty good shape."

Maryland's situation improved as the weekend unfolded following the Terps' loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday. Few teams contending for the final spots in the NCAA field capitalized on the others' setbacks. As Palm wrote on his Web site, "There has never been so unqualified a group of teams at the bottom of the bracket."

Virginia Tech's chances of making it to the NCAA tournament are far from a gimme at this point. (AP)

_____From The Post_____
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Mike Wise: All that local promise is scuttled.
Notebook: Wake Forest suspends Chris Paul for ACC quarterfinal game.
_____Who's In_____
These teams have earned automatic bids to the NCAA tournament:

Bucknell (Patriot League)
Central Florida (Atlantic Sun)
Creighton (Missouri Valley)
Chattanooga (Southern)
Delaware State (MEAC)
Eastern Kentucky (Ohio Valley)
Fairleigh Dickinson (Northeast)
George Washington (Atlantic 10)
Gonzaga (West Coast)
Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt)
Louisville (Conference USA)
Montana (Big Sky)
New Mexico (MWC)
Niagara (Metro Atlantic)
Oakland (Mich.) (Mid-Continent)
Ohio (MAC)
Old Dominion (Colonial)
Pennsylvania (Ivy)
Syracuse (Big East)
Texas-El Paso (Western Athletic)
Vermont (America East)
Washington (Pacific 10)
Winthrop (Big South)
Wis.-Milwaukee (Horizon)

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This weekend's biggest losers: West Virginia, North Carolina State, Vanderbilt, Georgetown and several teams in the Mid-American Conference. The biggest winners: Stanford and Georgia Tech, both of which appeared to clinch at-large bids.

The weekend also saw several teams contending for top seeds -- Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and Illinois -- all lose. North Carolina and Wake Forest almost lost. The Tar Heels and Illinois remain favorites to receive top seeds.

There were also plenty of discrepancies in yesterday's mock brackets. West Virginia was one of the last teams into Lunardi's bracket, earning a No. 12 seed. Palm, however, gave the Mountaineers a No. 9 seed.

Williams said there doesn't have to be wild speculation or lobbying by coaches because the selection committee deals with "facts" concerning what teams have accomplished during the year.

Maryland's media relations staff dispersed an e-mail yesterday touting the Terps' NCAA tournament credentials. Included were quotes from national media members, including Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis, who said, "I simply cannot imagine the ACC getting only four teams into the NCAA tournament."

But that could happen unless some team -- Maryland, North Carolina State or Virginia Tech -- steps forward in the league tournament. Said Williams: "I could see a lot of teams winning the tournament."

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