North Carolina won a draw over Duke yesterday for the first-round bye in the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament starting Thursday at Greensboro, N.C. This put Maryland in the same bracket as the Tar Heels.
"That's fine with me," said Terrapin Coach Lefty Driesell, whose team has lost eight straight games to Carolina. "It doesn't really matter." Maryland must get past Clemson in its firstround game Thursday at 8 p.m. to play the Tar Heels Friday.
Driesell, however, was not as calm about a controversial back-court call against the Terps Saturday, that may have swung the game Virginia's way, 75-72.
According to Driesell, game films showed that Maryland guard Dutch Morley did not touch the ball after Virginia's Bobby Stokes smacked it away from him. Maryland was playing for the final shot with the score tied at 72 and 1:59 remaining.
"He knocked the ball right through Dutch's legs and the ball hit three feet in the back court before Dutch picked it up," Driesell said. "I've watched the replay in slow motion 30 times."
Driesell said that those films contradicted referee John Moreau's ruling that Morley was the last player to touch the ball and that Maryland was guilty of a back-court violation.
In addition to North Carolina, N.C. State also won a draw yesterday against Wake Forest for sixth place, setting the following first-round games on Thursday: 1 p.m. -- Duke vs. Wake Forest; 3 p.m. -- Virginia vs. N.C. State; 8 p.m. -- Maryland vs. Clemson.
Duke and Carolina tied for the regular-season title with 9-3 records and split their two games.
ACC Commissioner Bob James pulled a slip of paper listing the Tar Heels out of a box containing eight slips, four for each of the two schools, to decide the bye. The tie between N.C. State and Wake Forest for sixth place was broken the same way.
Tournament play leading to automatic NCAA tournament berths will start tonight for area teams as American plays host to Drexel in an 8 p.m. East Coast Conference playoff game at Fort Myer.
The Eastern College Athletic Conference made its Southern Division playoff official yesterday. Georgetown will play Old Dominion Wednesday at the University of Richmond's Robins Center. Game time will be announced today, depending on television commitments.
WTTG-TV-5 plans to televise the game and it will start at either 8 or 9 p.m.
Georgetown officials feel their 22-4 regular season, completed with a 63-54 double-overtime triumph at Holy Cross Saturday, will assure the Hoyas an NCAA at-large bid. But they also believe winning the ECAC Southern-Upstate playoff would give the Hoyas a high seeding in the East and a first-round bye.
To do that, the Hoyas probably will have to beat Syracuse, which will play St. Bonaventure Wednesday night at Rochester, N.Y. If Georgetown wins, the final will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday at Cole Field House.
George Washington will swing into tournament action Tuesday night at Pittsburgh. The Colonials knocked themselves out of a home game in the first round of the Eastern Eight tournament by losing to West Virginia, 74-72, at Smith Center Saturday.
Both Maryland and Georgetown are hoping to get key players back from injuries.
Maryland guard Greg Manning, recovering from a fracture of the transverse process at the third lumbar vertebra, is improving and Driesell says he should know Tuesday if Manning will be available for the ACC tournament.
Georgetown forward Steve Martin missed Georgetown's regular-season finale, with a partial separation of his right shoulder, but says he will play against Old Dominion, which finished the regular season at 21-5.
Tonight, AU will be rematched against a Drexel team it defeated by 18 points earlier in the season. The Eagles opened a 17-3 lead in that game, pressing and taking advantage of the absence of Brian O'Loughlin, the Dragon point guard who missed the game with an ankle injury.
Both teams feature individual standouts: Drexel's Bob (Sweeper) Stephens, the nation's No. 8 rebounder who averages 18 points and 13 rebounds per game, and American's Russell (Boo) Bowers, the area's top Division I scorer, who hit 37 points in his most recent effort, against Hofstra last Tuesday.
The NCAA bids will go out Sunday and Driesell had figured the Terps had a legitimate shot at an at-large bid, if they beat Virginia and Duke faltered in the tournament. Now Driesell acknowledges the Terps, (18-8) must win the tournament to advance. He has also said publicly he will accept an NIT bid if offered.
Told that Georgetown likely would be sure of an at-large bid if the Hoyas beat Old Dominion, Driesell replied: "My next life, when I come back, I want to come back to coach an independent team... Those guys have it made."
Nationally, here's how NCAA tournament berths appeared following Saturday games in some of the more hotly contested major conference races.
Big Ten: Regular-season play will decide this berth and going into the final week, Michigan State, Ohio State and Iowa are tied at 10-4, followed by Purdue at 11-5. The schedule favors Iowa, with home games against Michigan and Northwestern.
Pacific 10: UCLA, which seems certain sure to lose the No. 1 ranking after Friday's loss to Washington, remained a game ahead of Southern Cal with a 110-102 triple overtime win over Washigton State Saturday. Two league games remain and the regular-season champion gets the automatic NCAA bid.
Southeastern: LSU, which clinched the regular-season title Friday, was upset by Mississippi State, 65-57, Saturday at Baton Rouge. The first conference tournament will decide the NCAA berth, with LSU virtually assured an at-large bid if the Tigers falter.