COLLEGE PARK, MD -- When the clock expired on Maryland's 51-50 victory over North Carolina State on Wednesday night, a swarm of students quickly overflowed the Comcast Center court in a sea of celebration.
That any student body would rush the court after beating the Wolfpack is an obvious sign that the NCSU program has ascended to a significant level of respect. That doesn't happen to run-of-the-mill programs, and for a long time it hadn't happened to the Wolfpack.
So, even in defeat, N.C. State garnered reverence, even though the book of public opinion will now read that the Wolfpack failed to validate its win over then-No. 1 Duke last Saturday.
After all, they lost to a Maryland team that had dropped two straight and its best win before Wednesday was at Northwestern. But the Terrapins are better than the public's perception, as this night proved.
As for Duke and the whole validation deal, this might offered plenty for both sides of the discussion. Had No. 14 N.C. State full...