Maryland and Georgetown, each with virtual locks on bids to the NCAA Tournament, close out their regular seasons today at home against opponents who began the season with high hopes which have not panned out.
The Terrapins (10-3 in the ACC, 20-5 overall) host struggling Virginia (7-6, 19-3) at 1 p.m. (WDCA-TV-20). in a game which holds little significance for the Terps but could mean a good deal to the Cavaliers.
Georgetown (20-5) hosts Holy Cross (16-9) at 8 p.m. in McDonough Arena (WTTG-TV-5).
Both the Terrapins and the Hoyas open play in their respective league tournaments Thursday. Maryland, the top seed in the ACC tournament, will play Georgia Tech at 3 p.m. Thursday in the Greensboro Coliseum.
Georgetown will have to wait until 10 p.m. tonight to learn its first-round opponent in the Big East Tournament.
In other local games, George Washington (14-10) closes out its regular season tonight with what should be a breather, traveling to Amherst to play Massachusetts (1-22). The Colonials open play in the Eastern Eight Tournament on the road Tuesday night.
American (13-12) can clinch the home-court edge for its opening-round East Coast Conference game Monday night if it beats Temple (13-11) tonight in an 8 p.m. game at Fort Myer. Junior superstar Boo Bowers needs just 32 points to break Wil Jones' 21-year-old single-season scoring record of 694 points.
Navy (12-11) tries to wrap up a fourth-straight winning season under Coach Bob Hamilton when it travels to West Point for a 2 p.m. game against Army. bThe Mids open play in the ECAC playoffs Tuesday night, hosting Baltimore.
Catholic, 8-17 and losers of eight in a row, closes its regular season at Canisius (12-13) before being thrown to the wolves Tuesday night in the opening round of the ECAC playoffs against Old Dominion (21-4).
James Madison (18-7), which opens ECAC play Tuesday by hosting Pennsylvania's St. Francis, finishes its best regular season in years today at Baltimore (12-14). George Mason (5-20) mercifully ends its season at Long Island University (13-11). The University of District of Columbia (16-10) should close its season on a winning note at Longwood, a Division III school.
Howard (17-7) continues its three game road trip with a game at Florida A&M (5-14).
In the meantime, the ACC regular season will close today and total confusion may break out when the games are over.
Entering today's play, several things are certain: Maryland is the regular-season champion, will be top-seeded and will receive a bid to the NCAA tournament, thought technically the tournament champion is the only automatic invitee. Georgia Tech will be the eighth and last seed and will open against Maryland.
Wake Forest will be the seventh seed and will open at 1 p.m. Thursday against the second seed.
But who will be the second seed? Entering today's games five teams still are in the running for that spot. In fact, with a few upsets, there could be a five-way tie for second place. For that to happen, Virginia would have to beat Maryland, Duke would have to upset North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake would have to beat North Carolina State in Winston-Salem.
Since no ACC team has lost at home (except for Georgia Tech) since Jan. 30, that combination is unlikely. But if it were to happen, North Carolina, N.C. State, Clemson, Duke and Virginia would all finish 8-6.
If form holds, though, Carolina and State will tie for second at 9-5 and flip a coin to see who plays Wake; Clemson, which completed league play Wednesday, will be fourth at 8-6; and Virginia and Duke will tie for fifth at 7-7 with UVA finishing fifth and playing Clemson in the first round on the basis of its two wins over the Blue Devils. Duke would then play the third seed.
Predicting what kind of a game will be played in Cole Field House today is practically impossible.Terrapin Coach Lefty Driesell admitted Wednesday after clinching the ACC title that his mind is already on the NCAAs. "We'll play hard against Virginia and in the ACC tournament but I've really got my mind on the NCAA tournament," he said.
Virginia on the other hand, needs a morale booster. Cavalier Coach Terry Holland has banned all player interviews in the wake of a recent story in which several players were critical of him. UVA, with 7-foot-4 phenom Ralph Sampson, has disappointed many, despite Sampson's performance: 14.3 points, 10.6 rebounds and six blocked shots a game.
Holy Cross' star, Ronnie Perry, has played well, averaging 23 points a game. But in his four years with the Crusaders he has played poorly against Georgetown and John Duren.
Tonight Georgetown will be looking for impetus to take into the Big East tournament. Its record, including wins over Syracuse and Maryland, virtually assures it a spot in the 48-team NCAA field, regardless of how it does in the tournament. metery. Arrangements by ALEXANDER S. POPE FUNERAL HOME.