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Carroll County Times
Carroll County

With Tar Heels in town, Maryland seeking another big win

Maryland's latest attempt to impress the NCAA tournament selection committee takes place tonight at 7 when the Terrapins host North Carolina in their home finale.

The Terps reached the 20-win plateau with Saturday's victory at Wake Forest, just their second road win against an Atlantic Coast Conference team this season. Now Maryland (20-9, 8-8 ACC) faces the conference's hottest team in the Tar Heels, which could mean great timing for the Terrapins.

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North Carolina (21-8, 11-5) isn't among the country's top 25-ranked teams, but the Heels are 19th in ESPN bracket expert Joe Lunardi's Daily RPI rankings. They've won five straight games and nine of their last 12, coming off a 79-58 throttling of Florida State Sunday.

Maryland has a pair of "quality" wins on its resume and both came at home - the Terps beat NC State, then ranked No. 14, 51-50 on Jan. 16; and then-No. 2 Duke 83-81 one month later - so a third could go a long way toward its NCAA tourney chances.

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"We try not to think about where we are just because people think we're on the bubble," Terps coach Mark Turgeon said during the ACC coaches teleconference Monday. "We might not be. You don't know what the committee is thinking, where they have us."

Lunardi has Maryland 68th in his Daily RPI, sandwiched between Baylor (16-13) and Stanford (17-13).

It would seem the Terps need wins over Carolina and Virginia on Sunday, and a possible ACC tournament victory, to seal up an NCAA tourney spot.

"We're fired up to play North Carolina because it's North Carolina," said Turgeon, whose Terrapins lost 62-52 to the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill on Jan. 19. "They're one of the hottest teams in the country. ... We put ourselves behind the 8-ball, lost a few games we shouldn't have lost maybe on paper. We did, so we are where we are."

Turgeon installed a lineup of junior guard Pe'shon Howard, sophomore guards Nick Faust and Dez Wells, senior forward James Padgett, and sophomore center Alex Len against Wake. It was the first time since Dec. 29 Turgeon had used that starting five, and Maryland is 10-1 this season with that lineup.

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The quintet helped hold the Demon Deacons to 32.7 percent shooting in Maryland's 67-57 win, led by a team-high 23 points from Wells on 11 of 12 shooting. Wells and Len are tied for the team scoring lead at 12 points per game.

North Carolina counters with sophomore James Michael McAdoo's 14.8 points (eighth in the ACC) and junior Reggie Bullock's 14.2 (11th). Bullock is dangerous from behind the 3-point line, too, at 44.4 percent (second in the ACC).

The Tar Heels have won five straight against the Terps in their all-time series, a series dominated by North Carolina (119-57). Maryland's last win against the Heels came Feb. 7, 2010.

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Another win against Carolina would likely be beneficial to the Terps' current postseason quest.

"We got 20 wins with this young team," Turgeon said. "[We're] headed in the right direction. Proud of this group. Haven't been as consistent as we'd like, but hopefully we can get some wins down the stretch."

NOTE:

Maryland seniors James Padgett and Logan Aronhalt are set to be honored before tonight's game.


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