Unless Maryland makes the NIT and has to travel, tonight marks the Terrapins' final true road game of the season.
First-year coach Mark Turgeon's team has not fared well away from College Park, taking a 1-7 record into a 7 p.m. tip-off at No. 6 North Carolina in both teams' penultimate regular-season games. Given the opportunity to blame his team's road woes on youth, he took it during the weekly ACC coaches' teleconference.
"Yeah, let me blame it on that," said Turgeon, whose team lost 63-61 at Georgia Tech Saturday to drop to 16-12 overall, 6-8 in the ACC. "I don't have an answer. I'm disappointed. My teams usually are good road teams.
"We've had a tough road schedule, if you look at it, North Carolina State, Florida State, some teams that are pretty good at home, along with Duke, then we've got Carolina. So blame it on youth."
Another factor, lately, has been playing without point guard Pe'Shon Howard, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during practice Feb. 9. They've lost all three road games since Howard went down for the second time this season. A broken foot kept him out of Maryland's first nine games.
"I've never been through this, lose a guy twice. It's been like coaching three or four different teams to be quite honest with you this year, which is a challenge in itself," Turgeon said. "It's been unusual and difficult, and it's just where our program is right now. We couldn't afford an injury, especially to our point. That hurt us. We were really starting to play well before he went down the second time."
Nick Faust and Terrell Stoglin have filled in for Howard, but neither is a true point guard.
Now the undermanned Terrapins get to face the sixth-ranked team in the nation in the Tar Heels (25-4, 12-2) - on North Carolina's Senior Night, no less.
The home team seemingly has a lot more to play for than Maryland given that the Heels remain in the running for the regular-season ACC title, the top seed in the ACC tournament and even a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed.
North Carolina closes its season at Duke in what will likely be for the conference's regular-season championship, but coach Roy Williams said on his Monday night radio show that there's little danger of overlooking the Terrapins.
"It is pretty easy to understand we play a pretty good opponent on Saturday ... but I think our guys understand that we play Maryland first and we need to take care of business against Maryland," said Williams, who was unhappy with his team's play against Virginia in a 54-51 win. "Virginia exposed us, I thought, defensively. We weren't tough enough or patient enough to guard for 35 seconds."
Maryland could be a good tonic for that. Since losing 83-74 at home to North Carolina on Feb. 4, the Terrapins have scored more than 70 points just once, including an average of just 61 points per game in four road contests since then. Turgeon noted that while the Terps are just 1-7 on the road, they are 13-3 at home, which could bode well for Sunday's regular-season finale against Virginia.
"I'm disappointed that we didn't come out with one Saturday, but we didn't deserve to win it, either," Turgeon said of the Georgia Tech game. "With that said, we have been a pretty good home team, and hopefully that will continue this weekend."