Teams usually relish the opportunity to perform in their own arena. The fans back them. The players can eat their usual training table fare, it's a short trip from dorm to locker room, and often there is a girlfriend to be kissed after helping the team to victory.

Maryland's basketball team, however, is not your usual team.

It has lost as many at Cole Field House as it has on the road and won only one more, so maybe it is fortunate to be playing in Atlanta tonight at 7:30 against Georgia Tech in Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

"We've had some success on the road," Maryland Coach Bob Wade said. "I don't know what the problem is with College Park. I hope we can continue to play well on the road at Georgia Tech."

The Terrapins have lost four in a row at home. The last victory was Jan. 9 against Clemson, after which they lost to North Carolina, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech and Duke.

"This is our house," said freshman center Brian Williams after the Duke loss on Saturday. "We have to go out and defend it. It's very disheartening."

The flip side is that the Terrapins, after struggling early in the season, have shown confidence and resiliency on the road. That will be important because four of their last six regular season games and the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament will be away from home. The two home games will be against Maryland-Eastern Shore and Virginia. Some think Maryland (13-8, 4-5 in the ACC) needs only to win three of the six to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Wade is not one of them.

"We think we have to win four of the last six," he said. "That would help us in the eyes of the {selection} committee."

A win over the Yellow Jackets (17-6, 4-4) would certainly help. Nine days ago Georgia Tech beat Maryland, 96-83, in the Terrapins' second-most lopsided loss of the season. Several things hurt Maryland in that game. One was a career-high 29 points by freshman Dennis Scott. The other was the sieve that masqueraded as Maryland's press.

"We just tried to press them, but mentally we blew some assignments," Wade said. "We ended up giving up the home run pass."

Georgia Tech's 6-5 point guard, Craig Neal, a whirling dervish on the court, was making a lot of passes and finished that night with 14 assists, which tied a school record. He has 52 assists in his last four games.

"In some respects, and I mean this as a compliment, he is a little reckless," said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski. "He creates a lot of confusion for the defense."

Maryland doesn't need any more of that, and Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Cremins has stopped worrying about any confusion Neal may cause for his team.

"The way he pushes the ball up the court, we have to have him," Cremins said. "I always thought he had potential. But offensively, I didn't think he was under control and defensively I was upset with him. Then all of sudden, he starts playing well. But, hell, I don't know what's going on. But he's making passes Mark Price doesn't make."

Krzyzewski's Blue Devils will be at home tonight to face Virginia (12-12, 4-4). Elsewhere, Fordham will be at Navy, and William and Mary is host to George Mason.