Maryland's freshmen will be officially introduced to Atlantic Coast Conference insanity tonight, taking on revenge-bent, heavily favored North Carolina State in their first ACC road game at raucous Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh (WMAL-630, 7:30).
The Terrapins (10-3) have split their conference encounters at home and may need another sparkler from Ernest Graham to upset eighth-ranked State again. Graham scored 44 points in Maryland's 124-110 win over State at Cole Field House.
Fourteenth-ranked Georgetown has an 8 p.m. home date with North Carolina Central, the team that enabled the Hoyas to set a school record last year for margin of victory in a 107-51 game. This season's N. C. Central team is 1-7 and hasn't played since Dec. 11.
Catholic is at home against Richmond at 8, Howard hosts Delaware State, also at 8, and Navy hosts William and Mary at 7:15.
Maryland was the victim of a slowdown by Wake Forest in its last game, but N.C. State Coach Norm Sloan will apparently stick to his running style of play, smilar to Maryland's.
"We'll play basically the same as we did before," said Sloan, "unless we fall behind early and can't continue to play zone (defense). Hopefully, we'll do a better job defensively than we did the first time around.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again -- Maryland is extremely difficult to contain offensively. They have great player after great player on the court and on the bench. ( Guard Dutch) Morley leads the ACC in assists and (forward Buck) Williams leads in rebounding.
"Buck is from Rocky Mount (N.C.) and he seemed particularly motivated playing against us. I'm sure he'll feel the same way in this game."
Williams was recruited by both N.C. State and North Carolina and caused a local stir by choosing Maryland.
The ability of Williams and fellow freshmen Morley and Reggie Jackson to withstand the pressure of playing in a wildly hostile setting will be a key for the Terrapins. State has not lost at home since last Jan. 14, when Virginia dealt the Wolfpack its only defeat in Reynolds all season.
"This will be an emotional game for me," said Williams. "I'll be all out and ready to play. I think when you go home, you tend to play better.
"It's hard to say what the crowd will be like towards me. I feel like I'm ready for it. I don't let the fans bother me.
"This will be a very tough game for us. We have to play defense and get the ball inside. If we don't, we're in for a long night."
The Terrapins, who fell from the No. 20 position in the polls this week, also need to recover from the shock of being upset, 66-60, by a previously struggling Wake Forest team. It was the Terps' first defeat at home.
"You can't lose at home in the ACC," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell. "Not unless you can come back and upset somebody on the road."
The loss broke an eight-game win streak for the Terps, who had dropped verdicts earlier in the season to Georgetown and Nevada-Las Vegas.
In the first meeting between the two schools, North Carolina State hit cold spells offensively and played poor defense.
Graham set two school scoring records with his 44 points and 18 field goals, and fellow guard Greg Manning had 25 points for the Terps.
Hawkeye Whitney scored 35 points against Maryland and Williams will again draw the chore of guarding the newly trim De Matha graduate.
"I played good defense against him when I was on him, but I didn't guard him the whole game," said Williams. "He also scored a lot of points against our zone."
Both teams figure to alternate between man-to-man and zone defenses, and both count on transition baskets to break the game open.