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ACC tournament pairings

Here at last are the pairings (below), courtesy of the ACC. I know many of you were hopeful that Maryland -- if it can first beat N.C. State -- would draw Duke in the second round instead of Wake Forest.

One piece of good news for Maryland is that the Terps avoid a first-round matchup against Miami's Jack McClinton, the guard from Baltimore. He had 18 points in each game against Maryland during the regular season but is capable of much more.

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If Maryland beats N.C. State, there is at least the possibility of rekindling some fun for Terps fans in this trying season. A first-round win would provide a small measure of hope that the Terps could hang in against Wake Forest -- as they did at Comcast Center -- and perhaps gain a different outcome this time.

A first-round loss would be dreadful for the Terps because it would mean they ended the critical part of their season with losses against teams (Virginia and N.C. State) seeded 10th and 11th in a 12-team league. It would erase some of the goodwill the team deservedly built with its fans after the upset of North Carolina.

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I'm curious whether Maryland's fan contingent in Atlanta will be smaller than at past ACC tournaments, owing to the economy and to Maryland's 7-9 conference mark. What do you think?

I'm ready for Atlanta. Basketball and sweet tea and barbecue. Must try a chili cheese dog this time at The Varsity, which bills itself as The World's Largest Drive-in Restaurant.

The schedule follows. Many fans must be pleased that Maryland avoided the noon game -- harder to be planted in front of a television at that hour -- and got placed instead in prime time.Thursday, March 12

No. 8 Virginia Tech vs. No. 9 Miami, Noon (Raycom)

No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech, 2:30 p.m. (Raycom)

No. 7 Maryland vs. No. 10 NC State, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

No. 6 Boston College vs. No. 11 Virginia, 9:30 p.m. (Raycom)

Friday, March 13

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Game No. 5: No. 1 North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech/Miami winner, Noon (Raycom/ESPN2)

Game No. 6: No. 4 Florida State vs. Clemson/Georgia Tech winner, 2:30 p.m. (Raycom/ESPN2)

Game No. 7: No. 2 Wake Forest vs. Maryland/NC State winner, 7:00 p.m. (Raycom/ESPN2)

Game No. 8: No. 3 Duke vs. Boston College/Virginia winner, 9:30 p.m. (Raycom/ESPN2


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