The Carquest Bowl hasn't made final its matchup, but it's a near certainty that North Carolina, and not Maryland, will represent the Atlantic Coast Conference in the Dec. 30 game at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami.
For several weeks, Maryland was the only ACC team eligible to play in the Carquest Bowl, but North Carolina matched the Terps' 6-5 record last week. Brian Flajole, the bowl's executive director, said yesterday that it was "highly unlikely" it would select Maryland and cited the team's weak finish. The Terps lost five of their last seven.
"Right now, it doesn't look as if Maryland will be in our game," Flajole said. "If Maryland had won just one more game, they're automatically in. With their great start, they were a team we certainly looked at, one that at one point we felt was probably going to be our [ACC] team."
The game is supposed to match the ACC's fourth bowl team against a third team from the Big East Conference.
That was expected to be Syracuse, which beat North Carolina in September, but the Carquest Bowl is hoping that Big East co-champion Miami will begin its NCAA probation early and pass on a bowl berth this year. If that happens, Virginia Tech would play in the Orange or Sugar Bowl, Syracuse would move up to the Gator Bowl and the Carquest Bowl would instead select a Southeastern Conference team.