Maryland and North Carolina State have played some of the greatest games in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament--double- and triple-overtime games that left audiences wanting more.

In one of those games, State took 102 shots. Today, the Wolfpack took 21 and, in a game played at a terrapin's pace, defeated Maryland, 40-28, in the first round of the ACC tournament in Greensboro Coliseum. Maryland, in losing to State for the third time this season, shot 27 percent, making almost as many turnovers as baskets.

Third-ranked Virginia escaped in the opener of the night doubleheader, beating Clemson, 56-54, when Tiger center Horace Wyatt missed a short jump hook with four seconds left. The second-seeded Cavaliers (28-2) lost all-ACC guard Othell Wilson with a deep bruise in his right thigh.

Wilson did not play in the second half and Virginia trainer Joe Gieck said the sophomore point guard was doubtful for Saturday's 3:30 p.m. semifinal against Wake Forest, an 88-53 winner over Duke tonight. Freshman Sylvester Charles, who attended Dunbar High School in Washington, led Wake with a game-high 18 points.

Top-ranked North Carolina, which easily defeated Georgia Tech, 55-39, as freshman Michael Jordan scored 18 points, will face North Carolina State in the first semifinal, at 1:30.

Today marked the first time Maryland (15-12, 5-9) has been eliminated in the opening round of this tournament since 1977; the Wolfpack was responsible for that defeat, too. This was the fewest points Maryland had scored since the 1946-47 season, when it was defeated by Navy, 55-27.

It was the lowest-scoring ACC tournament game since 1968, when North Carolina State defeated Duke, 12-10, in the semifinals.

The 16,034 who attended the afternoon doubleheader saw little exciting play from teams that supposedly form one of the country's premier conferences. The fans booed all four teams.

For the first 20 minutes, Maryland fans had a little to cheer about. The fifth-seeded Terrapins shot 33 percent, but trailed by only two points, 13-11, because fourth-seeded State (22-8, 7-7) also shot 33 percent.

The tone of the game already had been set, however, as State made seven of eight foul shots; Maryland made one of two. For the game, the Wolfpack made 22 of 30 free throws, Maryland four of six. State scored four more points on free throws than baskets. The Wolfpack also took 23 fewer shots than Maryland.

Maryland pulled within 19-18 with 8:40 to play on a short turnaround jumper by forward Herman Veal, who scored a team-high 10 points. But North Carolina State made nine straight free throws in the next six minutes to take a 30-20 lead, and the Terrapins never again got closer than six points.

Freshman forward Adrian Branch, the hero in Maryland's upset of then-No 1 Virginia last week, made only two of 11 shots and scored a season-low four points--11 under his season average. Branch, who had produced 40 percent of Maryland's points the previous five games, took the same types of shots that enabled him to score 29 points against Virginia. But most of them hit the inside of the rim and bounced out.

"I kept saying to myself, 'Well, it's just a matter of time before they start falling in,' " Branch said. "I stayed optimistic. But we were missing as a group, which magnified my poor shooting."

Forward Mark Fothergill did another superb job of playing defense against the opposition's top big man, as he prevented Thurl Bailey from scoring a field goal for the first 33 minutes. But Fothergill missed five of his six shots.

Guard Jeff Adkins missed six of eight. Veal missed four of seven. Pete Holbert, primarily a shooter, missed three of four. Steve Rivers missed all three.

"I told the players we played horrible," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell, who humbly refrained from repeating his pitch about getting into the NCAA tournament. "We played hard, but we didn't play smart."

The loss also apparently cost Driesell, or Maryland's athletic department $35. James F. Oshurst, Coliseum manager, said he would bill Maryland $35 for a padded metal folding chair Driesell stomped during the game. Driesell apparently did it when he was incensed at an official's call.

Oshurst said: "This is about the fourth incident with Lefty. I'm tired of Lefty doing his imitation of Bruce Lee . . . I wouldn't have cared if he was playing for the tournament championship. But I've seen burned-out candles that had more intensity than that game."

Driesell could not be reached for comment.

Virginia's victory followed a pattern established in its last seven games: the contest being decided in the closing seconds, with two involving Clemson. The only loss was last Saturday to Maryland.

Clemson trailed, 50-44, on a up-from-the heels, bolo dunk by Sampson with five minutes remaining. But Clemson pulled within 56-54, on Fred Gillam's 17-footer with 1:47 left, after Sampson missed the front end of a one and one.

Clemson got the ball back when freshman Jimmy Miller missed the front end of a one and one with 33 seconds left. After taking time out with 20 seconds left, the Tigers worked the ball to Wyatt, whose shot from the right side of the lane rolled off the rim and was rebounded by Virginia.

"When I got the ball down there, Ralph looked at me as if to say, 'Don't put that ball up,' " Wyatt said. "That's why I shot a jump hook, to get some extra height on it. Ralph's presence made a big difference.