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Being unseeded -- and unnoticed -- suits Maryland

The second team in as many seasons to advance to the Final Four as an unseeded squad, Maryland joins No. 5 seed Duke, No. 6 seed Denver and No. 7 seed Virginia in the NCAA tournament semifinals.

Although the Terps have compiled a 12-4 record and captured the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament crown, there is no consensus on whether Maryland can be considered the favorite to win the national championship on Memorial Day weekend.

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Coach John Tillman played the lack-of-respect card Tuesday morning during an NCAA-organized conference call involving the four Division I coaches, two Division II coaches and two Division III coaches at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore this weekend.

"I think we relish the role of the underdog, and I don't think it's unique to our team," Tillman said. "I think it's pretty consistent here at the University of Maryland. I think if you look at [former men's basketball coach] Gary Williams and the fire and passion that he coached with and his teams played with, I think it's pretty consistent across the board here. We're a group that, being ranked so high was due partly because we did such a good job last year, and last year's team was so successful, and we had a lot of guys returning. But I think it goes to show that it doesn't really matter how many guys you have coming back. You're always going to lose critical parts of each team after graduation."

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As the lone unseeded team in the postseason, the Terps are the only team that was forced to win its first two contests on the road. Taking the path of most resistance has become a rallying cry for Maryland.

"We've talked about it as, 'Maybe that's the way things have to be for us. Everything has to be hard because our road is going to be hard,'" Tillman said. "We talked about it on Sunday. We had to go to North Carolina, and everybody has a different opinion on our seeding, and we didn't really focus on that. We kind of drew strength from the fact that nobody thought we were good and we were going to have to earn everybody's respect. But to get us ready for Syracuse, to go up to Boston and have to bus up there because the transportation situation was not ideal, everytime things have gotten hard, we just kind of reinforced that's just the way things are for us. The only way we can get to where we want to is if it's hard and the more hard things we do, the more prepared [the team will] be for the challenges ahead of us. To try to beat Duke again is going to be really, really tough. They're experienced, they've been here, they're more experienced than we are, they're ridiculously athletic, they're the national champions. Beating Syracuse and beating North Carolina is going to help us get ready to put us in a position where we would have a chance to win that game. But our guys bought into it. We can't get anything easy, nothing's ever going to be easy, and if you want it easy, then forget it. That's the way it kind of is to be a Terp. We've got to be resilient, we've got to be gritty, we've got to be tough."

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