Maryland needs to begin making its push for the postseason now. The Terrapins cant wait any longer to figure themselves out any longer, they need to strengthen their resume now.
The Terps built a gaudy record in nonconference play by beating up on a long list of patsies and learned very little about themselves in the process. Coach Mark Turgeon had no clue what his roster would look like when the slate was made, so he cautiously put together something that would t crush them if the roster was depleted.
But with a nice array of players all on board, a bunch of games against the Citadels of the world did little to get the Terrapins prepared for the size, strength, speed, quickness and talent of the ACC. More games against C-USA, MAC and MWC teams would have served them well, but that didnt happen.
So, Turgeon has spent the last month learning about his many new players and team as a whole. Maryland was competitive in the first half of a 20-point loss at Duke last Saturday, and did enough for Turgeon to leave Cameron Indoor Stadium optimistic about his team.
We competed in a really tough environment against a team that was ready to play, Turgeon said. We have been throwing the ball everywhere, we didnt throw the ball everywhere tonight. ... We were better against tremendous pressure in an inspired arena today.
While the Terrapins are 15-5 overall and 3-4 in the ACC, they need to pick up some quality wins, and more important, cant afford to lose to teams not headed to the NCAAs, such as Wednesdays opponent, Florida State. Unless the Seminoles make a complete turnaround, they will miss out on the Big Dance.
FSU (11-8, 3-3) will win enough games that a road win by the Terps will help their No 64 RPI (Ratings Percentage Index), and also show they can win away from College Park. Marylands best non-ACC wins are at No. 82 Northwestern and at home over No. 94 Stony Brook, so every conference win is extremely valuable.
Pick: Florida State, 64-60.
N.C. State (16-4, 5-2) at Virginia (14-5, 4-2)
When: 7 p.m.
Full Court Press: This is a huge game for both teams. N.C. State is coming off an emotional win over North Carolina and must prove it can string together something significant. State lost at Maryland days after beating Duke two weeks ago. Virginia wants to enhance its NCAA resume, and beating the Wolfpack will do that. Plus, with a win the Cavaliers will be in the running for one of the ACCs top spots. Keys: N.C. State must play with energy and intelligence, which includes shot selection and communication on defense. Virginia must hit perimeter shots, crash the boards and force turnovers.
Pick: Virginia, 65-61.
Georgia Tech (11-7, 1-5) at Clemson (11-8, 3-4)
When: 7 p.m.
Full Court Press: This is an interesting matchup. Georgia Tech is capable of stringing together some wins, including at Littlejohn, yet Clemson is playing well and can reach .500 in the league with a win. The team that wins will be the one that either dominates going to the free throw line or the one that hits more 3-pointers than is the norm.
Pick: Clemson, 59-56.
North Carolina (13-6, 3-3) at Boston College (9-10, 1-5)
When: 9 p.m.
Full Court Press: This is a dangerous game for the Tar Heels. Boston College has been competitive, and its likely the crowd wont be a factor, so North Carolina must generate its own energy, something it hasnt consistently done this season. If UNC is ready, it has too much talent and depth for the Eagles. If not, Ryan Anderson and company could notch an upset. Boston College is due to spring one, and this game has that potential.
Pick: UNC, 67-62.
Duke (17-2, 4-2) at Wake Forest (10-9, 3-4)
When: 8 p.m.
Full Court Press: The Blue Devils are 0-2 in true road games this season, so a win at Wake Forest will be big regardless of how they play. Well, not really. Duke must play well, as each game without Ryan Kelly is crucial in them building to what they will eventually become. Plus, Wake Forest isnt very good, though the Deacons have pulled off some quality wins at home in recent weeks. The Demon Deacons have some athletes that could give Duke trouble, but the Blue Devils are just better, and Mason Plumlee could be the X-factor.
Pick: Duke, 82-70,
Miami (15-3, 6-0) at Virginia Tech (11-8, 2-4)
When: 9 p.m.
Full Court Press: Another challenge for the Hurricanes, as they could slip up if the Hokies go nuts from the perimeter. But Miami has already won a bunch of road games this season and shouldnt be fazed at all.
Pick: Miami, 74-62.
Season record: 145-31