Seven Atlantic Coast Conference wrestling champions will be defending their titles in the ACC wrestling tournament today at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House.

Maryland, fourth in last year's ACC tournament, will host North Carolina State, the defending ACC champion; North Carolina, Virginia, Duke and Clemson. Wake Forest does not compete in wrestling.

The quarterfinals will begin at 1 p.m. and the semifinals at 7 p.m. today. An admission fee of $2 for adults and $1 for students and children will be charged for the semi-finals.

Saturday, the consolation semifinals at 11 a.m. are free, but the above fees will be applied to the 1 p.m. consolation finals and the 2:30 p.m. championship finals.

Maryland head coach William E. (Sully) Krouse and his assistant, John C. McHugh, have been working wih a squad that includes only three seniors among its top 10 wrestlers.

The Terps, 7-7 for the season and 1-3 in the ACC, have a defending title-holder in team captain Steve Heger, a senior who won the 177-pound division last year with a 11-5 victory over State's Lee Guzzo.

Heger, from Beltsville, is 15-1 this season in that category and 4-0 in the ACC. He finished first in the Bucknell invitational tournament.

Senior Steve Hogg of Salisbury will compete for the Terps in the 167-pound class, in which he has a 12-5 season record and a 2-2 split in the ACC.

The third senior is former Maryland football linebacker Kevin Benson, who will compete as a heavyweight. Benson's season record is 4-3-1 and, in the ACC, 1-2-1.

Sophomore Bob McIlvaine of Arlington is a strong candidate for Maryland in the 142-pound division, where he has accumulated a 3-2-1 season record and 2-1 ACC mark. McIlvaine has also wrestled in the 150-pound class, where his record is 2-3-0 and 0-1.

Another top wrestler is junior Dave Synder in the 190-pound division. He is 5-3-1 for the season and 1-2-1 in the ACC. Synder has also compiled a 7-2 record in the heavyweight division.

The Terps' strongest competition is expected to come from N.C. State, Virginia and UNC. Virginia beat State in a recent dual meet, but later lost to Carolina. Clemson is only in its second year of varsity wrestling and Duke is building its program.

N.C. State's Lynn Morris is a favorite in the heavyweight division, holding a season record of 20-3 and an ACC record of 4-0. State also has two returning champions in Mike Zito (118) and Terry Reese (158).

State, which is 11-5 for the season and 3-2 in the ACC, won last year's tournament by virtue of having eight men in the finals.With the exception of two freshmen on its 10-member squad, all the wrestlers were either titlists or finalists last year.

State's Mike Koob, in the 142-pound division, is expected to get his toughest competition from Virginia's Bob Harwick, last year's ACC champion.

Virginia's squad, at 6-2 for the season and 3-1 in the ACC, is said by competing coaches to be especially tough this year.

Sophomore Steve Silverberg, who was named the tournament's outstanding performer last year, wrestling in the 126-pound category, is competing in the 134-pound division this year. His toughest competition could be UNC sophomore Chris Conkwright.

The Cavaliers also have strength in senior Matt Bacharach (158) and junior Gary Friedman (118).

Carolina has two returning champions in Tim Reaume (134) and Jeff Reintgen (150). Senior Conkwright (118) is also a favorite with a 10-0 record this season, as is teammate Jeff Reintgen (150) at 11-0.

Duke freshman Dough Sumner (126) leads his squad wit 9-1-0 and 3-1 records this year. The Blue Devils, 7-6 overall and 0-4 in the ACC, have a team that includes three freshmen, five sophomores and two juniors.

Clemson, 7-13 for the season and 0-2 in the conference, will be looking for its first points in the tournament as none of its squad made it past the first round last year. The Tigers are another young team with five freshmen, one sophomore, two juniors and two seniors.

Wrestlers who win in their respective weight divisions will be eligible to represent their school at the NCAA championships March 17-19.