Today's game against Clemson was supposed to be a nice homecoming for the Maryland men's basketball team, fresh off a road win against Boston College and still high off toppling Duke last weekend.
Except for that road win part.
The Terrapins (18-8, 6-7 ACC) host the Tigers today at noon likely needing a win to revive their fading NCAA tournament hopes, particularly after Tuesday's 69-58 setback against a Boston College team that is under .500 and 4-9 in ACC play.
The Terps' emotional victory over the Blue Devils didn't seem too important following a lackluster performance against the Eagles. Maryland was outrebounded 36-32, shot 35 percent from the floor and got a mere four points out of leading scorer Alex Len, who took only five shots and fouled out in the final minute.
Senior guard Logan Aronhalt was the lone bright spot with his season-high 26 points and seven 3-pointers, but it wasn't nearly enough to give Maryland a rare road victory (the Terps are 1-5 in the ACC away from Comcast Center).
The Terrapins are on the outside looking in - according to ESPN college basketball bracket expert Joe Lunardi, Maryland was the sixth team out as of Friday evening.
"There's no explanation," sophomore guard Nick Faust told reporters after the game. "We just have to grow up if we want to change. Guys have to be more consistent and be more committed to the team."
Perhaps Maryland is getting a break today - Clemson comes in as the lowest-scoring team in the conference at 62 points per game, and the Terps still lead the ACC in field-goal percentage defense at 37.3 percent.
Len seemed to regress after shining in the Duke game, when he scored 19 points and outplayed Blue Devils counterpart Mason Plumlee. Len had eight rebounds against BC, shot 1 for 5 and was all but non-existent in Maryland's offense.
Aronhalt's 26 points (7 for 12 from 3-point range) were the most by a Maryland player this season. Unless Len establishes himself against Clemson today, the Terps will likely turn to their guards for offense once again.
Clemson counters with standout forward Devin Booker, a senior who averages 12.3 points and eight rebounds per game. Booker has posted four double-doubles in conference play, but the Tigers struggle to score and they've dropped four of five games heading into today's contest.
Five of Clemson's eight ACC losses have come by five points or less, however.
Still, Maryland has dominated the all-time series against the Tigers at 89-49, and 52-11 at home. The Terps likely need a few more victories to get back on the NCAA tournament path and reassure coach Mark Turgeon of their commitment.
"I just don't get it," Turgeon told reporters after the BC game. "I just don't understand. We're right here, it's a big game. It's not a hostile environment. You just got to want it. And it seemed like we were standing in quicksand all night, standing and watching."
NOTE: Former Terrapins coach Lefty Driesell is set to be honored at halftime today. Maryland's athletic department is recognizing Driesell on April 16 with a piece of bronze artwork to be displayed inside Comcast Center. Driesell coached Maryland for 17 seasons and led the Terps to eight NCAA tourney appearances.
Reach staff writer Pat Stoetzer at 410-857-7894 or firstname.lastname@example.org.