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How They Could Lose It All

Thursday, March 10, 2005; Page G08

If we've learned anything about Maryland this season, it is that it's impossible to know anything about Maryland. The Terrapins can beat any team in the league; they also can lose to any team.

Maryland likely will have to beat at least a few of the league's top teams en route to the title. That means contending with some of the nation's best big men, namely North Carolina's Sean May, Wake Forest's Eric Williams and Duke's Shelden Williams. One of Maryland's biggest struggles this season has been finding a replacement for the inside presence of Jamar Smith, who scored 25 points in the ACC final against Duke. In addition, guard D.J. Strawberry, the team's best defender, is out for the season with a knee injury.

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None of Maryland's four primary interior players has been able to consistently establish himself throughout the regular season. Ekene Ibekwe, Travis Garrison and Will Bowers at times have been prone to foul trouble. James Gist, while possessing enormous athletic potential, is a freshman.

Maryland also plays its best basketball at home (see Feb. 12 against Duke). But the Terps didn't get their second road victory of the season until Feb. 19, and MCI Center hasn't provided much of a home-court advantage recently: Maryland has lost four of its past six games there.

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