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Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Men's Basketball: Maryland set for ACC tourney

Maryland is likely out of the NCAA tournament this season, save for a surprising charge through the ACC tourney that begins today in Greensboro, N.C.

The seventh-seeded Terrapins (20-10) take on No. 10 Wake Forest (13-17) tonight at 7 in a first-round matchup with Duke, the No. 2 seed, waiting in the quarterfinals. If the Terps want to be considered for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, they're likely going to have to be playing in Sunday's ACC tourney title game.

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That probably means knocking off some of the conference's premier teams - Miami, Duke, North Carolina and Virginia are the top four seeds. And the Terrapins will have to get by the Demon Deacons for a third time this season.

Maryland has won six in a row against Wake, and the Terps are 4-0 vs. the Deacons under coach Mark Turgeon by an average margin of 16 points. Although they're coming off a disappointing road loss at Virginia, Turgeon said the Terps are headed in the right direction.

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"We just want to keep getting better," he said. "We're about building the program. We're a better team than we were last year."

Dez Wells has been a bright spot for Maryland despite the team losing four of its last six. The sophomore guard is averaging 17 points per game over the last four contests and finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds against Virginia.

Meanwhile, fellow sophomore guard Nick Faust is on a successful roll of late with 13.6 points per game over the last five games. Faust led Maryland with 15 points against the Cavaliers, who rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit to beat the Terrapins 61-58 in overtime.

Turgeon said his players were visibly upset following the Virginia loss, which the coach translated into a young squad growing up and wanting to win this week.

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"If you can't get juiced up for postseason tournaments," Turgeon said, "you shouldn't be playing basketball."

Wake senior C.J. Harris is fifth in the ACC in scoring at 15.3 points per game, which makes him Maryland's top priority on defense. The Terrapins finished the regular season ranked first in the ACC and ninth in the country in field goal percentage defense.

Opponents have shot 37.9 percent against the Terps, who held 11 of 18 ACC foes under 40 percent.

But it's the postseason, and that magnifies every game.

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"It's really dangerous when you get to tournament time because you don't have to be the best team," Wells said. "You just have to be the best team on a given night for 40 minutes. That's something that makes the tournament so interesting to watch."

Turgeon said he thought Maryland played with toughness and defended well against Virginia despite the loss, which pushed the Terps' conference road record to 2-7. Now it's on to a neutral site, and a chance for Maryland to make a final push toward earning an NCAA tourney berth.

"We want to get better, get our confidence going into the ACC tournament," said Turgeon, "and then whatever postseason we player after that."


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