Forget about Atlantic Coast Conference basketball for a night. Forget about the Eastern independent powers for a night. It's local rivalry time.

The more intriguing of the two big games is George Washington's attempt to beat Maryland for the first time since 1961. What makes this game interesting is young GW's recent success. Maryland's injuries and the young Terps' inconsistency.

The 8 p.m. game at Cole Field House ill be televised on WMAL-TV-7 and tickets are available.

Meanwhile, those intracity rvials, Georgetown and American U., whose rosters and records suggest a possible mismatch, meet at Ft. Myer, 8 p.m. in what has become a dogfight for the Hoyas. As recently as two years ago, AU escaped with a double-overtime win.

In other games involving major area teams today, surprising Navy resumes competition, following an 11-day exam break, at William and Mary; Catholic travels to Drexel, and Virginia plays at North Carolina State in the regional ACC telecast (WMAL-TV-7. 2 p.m.).

What any good local rivalry needs is a controversy, and GW coach Bob Talent sort of started one inadvertently this week when he said he would not trade John Holloran, his senior guard, for Brad Davis, the Maryland playmaker.

What Tallent meant, as he explained it later, was that Hollarn fit into the 10-5 Colonials' scheme of things better than Davis, who he said fits into Maryland's concept better than would Holloran.

"We had to have a scorer this year," said Tallent in explaining his preference for Holloran. "I don't think Davis is the kind of guy who will go out and score 25 to 30 points a game. He beat you in other ways. John has carried us our last six or seven games."

GW has not come close to beating Maryland in recent years. But Tallent thinks his team has a better chance at the upset this year - if his three freshmen play well - because of Maryland's inconsistency.

"This would not be as big an upset as some would have been in the past," said Tallent. "Maryland is more inconsistent this year. Any time a team is inconsistent, you've got a better chance. Any time you have young people, just like we do too, you look great some night and other nights you shouldn't even show up."

In Wednesday's 75-73 comeback win over North Carolina State, Steve Sheppard, playing on a painfully strained left Achilles tendon, led Maryland back from a 19-2 deficit early in the game.

Sheppard's status for tonight is uncertain.

If Sheppard can't play, Driesell said he would again go with the big front line of 6-foot-10 Larry Gibson, 6-10 Mike Davis and 6-8 Lawrence Boston, with John Bilney sufficiently recovered from an ankle injury to spell them.

Tallent, who once started freshman Bucky Roman, Tom Glenn and Mike Zagardo, now brings them off the bench. Tallent said it gives them a better perspective and feel for the game. Glenn, a 6-7 jump-shooting forward, has been excellent in his last three games, making 25 of 31 shots.

What the Colonials have to do to beat Maryland is no secret, Tallent said. In order, GW's priorities are:

"The two things they do best are offensive rebounding and fast breaking. We have to keep them off the offensive boards. I think we can hold our own on the boards."

"We have to be patient and get a good shot every time down the court. Last year we took some bad shots early and they got the fast break going."

The inside game also is on AU coach Jim Lynam's mind. He is hopeful of springing an upset that he says would rank about the same as Navy's upset of the Hoyas three weeks ago.

Tonight's matchup has all the elements of that one.

"You know you have to play as well as you're capable of playing," Lynam said. "I'm referring to the biggest team in college basketball and the most depth of any team in the country.

"Georgetown utilizes its physical attributes to the fullest. Their pressing defenses make people play the way they want them to play."

Butch Slappy, the Eagles' point guard, has handled pressing defenses well through this 10-8 season. What presents the problem with Georgetown, and what makes the Hoya presses so effective, is the change in tempo when coach Jim Thompson substitutes, according to Lynam.

"John Duren, the starting point guard, is strong and aggressive. Then (5-8) Mike Riley comes in, without the size of (6-3) Duren. But he has quickness, tremendous hands and likes to draw the charge. Your guard has to adjust accordingly."

The threat of seeing centers Ed Hopkins and Tom Scates at the same time is what most scares Lyman, as it did St. Joseph's Wednesday night. The Eagles are smallish this season, with 6-4 and 6-3 starting forwards in Calvin Brown and Carroll Holmes.

Georgetown assistant coach Billy Stein indicated yesterday that Thompson will stick with his smaller lineup of the 6-9 Hopkins, 6-7 Larry Long and 6-6 Al Dutch. But Scates, a 6-foot-11, 250-pound sophomore, can clog up the middle of the Hoyas' 2-1-2 zone by himself.

"Tell me the last team that played 14 feet (two seven-foot players) in the high-low post for 20 minutes and in the front and back of the press," said Lynam. "It's nice to have that in your arsenal."

Of 14 feet, Lynam was exagerating but only by four inches.