With tournament play less than a week away, Georgetown and Maryland suffered injuries to key players in narrow, dramatic victories Wednesday night.
Maryland guard Greg Manning will miss the Atlantic Coast Conference finale against Virginia Saturday and Georgetown forward Steve Martin will not play against Holy Cross in the 16th-ranked Hoyas' final regular-season game that night, school officials said yesterday.
Maryland trainer Rod Martin described Manning's injury as a fracture of the transverse process at the third lumbar vertebra. He will be examined today by team physician Stan Lavine. Manning, who was injured in a first-half fall in the Terrapins' 54-53 victory over Wake Forest, was walking yesterday and one local orthopedist said that the amount of pain, not the break itself, will determine Manning's availability for the ACC tournament starting Thursday at Greensboro, N.C.
Martin, despite a partial separation of his right shoulder, made several key baskets and two free throws down the stretch in the 16th-ranked Hoyas' 73-71 victory over neighborhood rival George Washington.
With an ECAC playoff berth assured, Coach John Thompson said yesterday that Martin will not play in Saturday's regular-season finale at Holy Cross. The Hoyas take a 21-4 record into the game.
It also was learned that the ECAC selection committee has tentatively decided on Old Dominion over Virginia Commonwealth as the Hoyas' opponent in the Southern Division playoff Wednesday. The ECAC yesterday announced the site -- the Robins Center at the University of Richmond -- but will not announce the teams until Sunday.
The winner of the game will be paired against the survivor of the Upstate New York playoff pairing Syracuse and St. Bonaventure. The final, with the winner getting an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, will be played at Cole Field House, Hampton Roads Arena or Robins Center, depending on the Southern winner.
It is likely that if Georgetown and Syracuse are the finalists, the loser will receive an NCAA at-large bid.
In another development yesterday, the Eastern Eight announced that George Washington will clinch a home-court game for the first round of the league's NCAA qualifying tournament by beating West Virginia Saturday night at Smith Center.
A GW victory will guarantee a three-way tie for third place and the final two home-court spots. The tournament committee spent two days deciding how to resolve a three-way tie, because the league does not play a double round-robin schedule, and came up with this solution:
If Pittsburgh and GW win, then GW, West Virginia and Rutgers will tie for third at 6-4. Rutgers will be awarded third place by virtue of a better overall record and GW fourth because it beat West Virginia head to head. Then GW would host West Virginia in a first-round game Tuesday.
If Rutgers and GW win, then GW, West Virginia and Pitt would tie for third at 6-4. GW would finish third on the basis of regular-season wins over the other two teams and the Colonials would host the winner of Saturday's game between Penn State and Duquesne.
The Eastern Eight semifinals and final will be played at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena.
A George Washington victory over West Virginia Saturday would assure a three-way tie, including those two teams and either Pitt or Rutgers, who play each other Saturday.
In the annual GW-Georgetown rivalry, Martin injured his shoulder pulling down a rebound midway in the second half. Nevertheless, the 6-foot-4 1/2 senior forward scored eight of the Hoyas' final 12 points, including two free throws that gave Georgetown a 73-69 lead with 13 seconds to play.
At this stage, it appears that the decision not to play Martin Saturday night is a precautionary measure. He left the Smith Center with his arm in a sling and it was taped yesterday. Thompson wants to make sure he is available for the ODU game Wednesday.
Freshman Eric Smith is likely to start in place of the Hoya captain.
Martin's absence will mark only the second game missed by a Georgetown starter this season, when four returning starters and otherwise inexperienced players have exceeded preseason expectations following a 23-8 record last season. Forward Craig Shelton missed practice yesterday with a bruised thigh.
The lack of injuries has been a key to Georgetown's success, since the Hoyas have a reputation for little depth.
However, freshman Ed Spriggs has developed into a solid backup center. And even freshman forward Jeff Bullis filled in well after starter Tom Scates was ejected for fighting with GW's Bob Lindsay and Spriggs got in foul trouble Wednesday night. Smith has played decently in spot duty for Martin previously.
With Maryland starter Ernest Graham in a deep slump, Manning has come off the bench and played well for the past half-dozen games.
Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell said that trainer Martin told him it was possible Manning could be ready for the ACC tournament. "It can't be that bad, because he's walking around," Driesell said.
Guard Dutch Morley also missed practice yesterday with a jammed foot.
Maryland won Wednesday's game on a 12-foot jump shot by Larry Gibson as time expired.