What does Maryland do for an encore?
That is the rather pleasant question facing the Terrapins Saturday when they put their 9-1 Atlantic Coast Conference record on the line against Clemson (WJLA-TV-7, 3 p.m.).
The tipoff will come fewer than 48 hours after the Terps escaped with a 70-69 win over North Carolina in a game that -- although they won't publicly admit it -- put them in complete command of the ACC race.
The fact may make it hard for the Terrapins to regenerate themselves quickly. And against Clemson, playing in pit-like Littlejohn Coliseum, that could be fatal.
"They've blown out everyone they've played down there," said Coach Lefty Driesell. "In that gym, they feel like they can play with anyone in the country."
The Tigers have been a Jekyll-and-Hyde team this season in conference play. At home they are 5-0 in the ACC, winning by 20 over Virginia, 17 over North Carolina and Wake Forest. Only Duke, which took them into overtime, made them sweat.
On the road, however, the Tigers have been as impotent as they have been omnipotent at home. They have a 1-4 ACC record on the road, the only win coming over hapless Georgia Tech. Their best road performance was at Maryland last month, an 84-83 loss in a game Clemson might have won had forward Larry Nance been able to do better than three of 12 from the foul line.
Clemson's 6-4 ACC record ties it for second place with North Carolina and Virginia. The Tigers are in 16-5in all games, the Terps 17-3. A Maryland win would clinch at least a tie for first place in the regular-season race.
But playing in front of the Clemson crowd so soon after such an emotionally draining victory will make an eight straight win over Clemson a tough order for Maryland.
"This win was a big one, a special Coach Bill Foster has fielded in his five years here. Although guard Billy Williams, one of the most underrated players in the league, is the leading scorer at 16.7 points a game, the key man is a center John (Moose) Campbell.
A 6-foot-10, 245-pound senior, Campbell was a model of inconsistency his first two seasons with the Tigers. This year, although still up and down, he has developed into a more solid player on a day-to-day basis -- especially, you guessed it, at home.
"The past two years, he would flucuate between zero and 10 from game to game," Foster said. "Now, I'd say he goes from between five and 10. That still isn't where he'd like it, but it's an improvement.
Campbell has ample help up front from the 6-10 Nance, who is averaging 12.7 points and a team-leading 8.0 rebounds (Campbell hauls down seven rebounds a game), and another 6-10 player, Horace Wyatt. Point guard Bobby Conrad runs the offense with aplomb and Foster will use 10 players during the game. The Tigers are deep.
After Saturday, the Terps have three conference games remaining -- at Duke and in College Park against Wake Forest and Virginia. If they win any two of their four remaining games, they will win the ACC regular-season title regardless of what their pursuers do. That would clinch two things: an opening-round game in the ACC tournament against Georgia Tech -- this year's version of a bye -- and an NCAA bid.
Georgetown (16-5), continuing to pursue another 20-victory season, plays Wagner Saturday at 8 p.m. at McDonough Arena (WTTG-TV-5). The Hoyas have won five straight and are hoping for a return to the top 20 if they can win against Wagner.
American, 11-10 and 4-3 in East Coast Conference play, has a league date at 1:30 p.m. in the Palestra with La Salle and all-American Michael Brooks. The Explorers are 11-7 and 4-4 in a league play.
Navy will try to halt a three-game losing streak, hosting a surprising 14-9 Penn State team at 1:15 p.m. in Annapolis.
George Washington (13-6) faces a tough Virginia Tech team at 8 p.m. at Smith Center. Catholic is also at home with an 8 p.m. game at Brookland Gym against an underrated Drexel team. George Mason (3-17) hosts Mercy in a 7:30 p.m. game in Fairfax. Bowie State is home to Coppin State at 8 p.m.
Virginia and Howard are both on the road, the Cavaliers playing a 1 p.m. game (WJLA-TV-7) at Georgia Tech, while Howard pays a visit to North Carolina-Wilmington.