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As Terps head for MCI Center, could ACC/Big Ten event follow? BB&T; Classic should test Maryland's No. 2 standing; Terps/ACC notebook


COLLEGE PARK -- Tickets remain for the BB&T; Classic, which will bring No. 2 Maryland, No. 5 Stanford, George Washington and DePaul to the MCI Center in Washington on Sunday and Monday.

Starting today, single-day tickets priced at $30 will go on sale for the fourth annual fund-raiser for the Children's Charities Foundation. To order by phone, call 410-481-7328. Previously, only two-day tournament packages had been available.

In Sunday's semifinals, Maryland will meet Stanford, a Final Four participant last March, at 1 p.m. At 3: 30 p.m., defending champion GW plays DePaul. The Colonials beat the Terps in last year's title game, after Maryland upset then-No. 2 Kansas.

The third-place game will be played at 6 p.m. and the championship at 8: 30 Monday.

Could the MCI Center -- or the Baltimore Arena, for that matter -- be one of the neutral sites for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge?

While it's unlikely that Maryland coach Gary Williams would want to go to the same neutral floor twice in one season, it's also hard to imagine that a team from his former conference would want to work against him and the home-court advantage he has established at Cole Field House.

Coaches will have a say in the sites for the event, which was brokered by ESPN.

The inaugural ACC/Big Ten Challenge, patterned after the defunct ACC/Big East series, will be played Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 1999. To get the 11-team Big Ten down to the ACC's size, Indiana and Ohio State will not participate the first two years. It's not just a case of Bob Knight getting his way; a Big Ten official said he really does have a scheduling conflict next season.

The event is a strong indication that the NCAA legislation that would limit participation in "exempt" events like holiday tournaments in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, is a fait accompli.

Major conferences support the proposal, which will limit schools to one event outside the continental United States every four years starting with the 2000-2001 season. Instead of a Maryland dealing directly with an offshore promoter, the conferences can be the middleman and themselves arrange more made-for-TV deals.

Knock on wood

Niki Arinze is a graphic reminder of how healthy Maryland has been in recent years.

Wake Forest will be without its steadiest inside player for the remainder of the season, as the second-year forward will undergo arthroscopic surgery later this month to repair a shoulder injury. The Demon Deacons will appeal to the NCAA for a redshirt season, and Arinze probably will be a sophomore again next season.

Williams, meanwhile, said he has to go back to the 1990-91 season, when then-junior Walt Williams broke his leg, to find the last serious injury that affected Maryland. It capped a stretch when the Terps also lost Kevin McLinton and Garfield Smith to fractures.

"We had about five broken bones my first five years here," Williams said in the preseason, as he knocked on the conference table in his office. "I figure that balances out."

Deep depth

Of course, Williams has never had a team better equipped to handle an injury.

Nine players are averaging more than 11 minutes a game, although it will be interesting to see how much time freshman big man Lonny Baxter gets as the games get bigger. If Baxter progresses the way he has the last three weeks, Williams will gladly make arrangements for a nine-man rotation, as opposed to the eight-man one he's accustomed to.

"With our depth, we can continue to play the same way longer," Williams said of his affinity for the full-court game. "We don't have to pull back because we're tired."

After studying minutes played, it's obvious that Danny Miller will inherit the wing forward spot that is Laron Profit's for the third straight season. Going into last night, the senior was averaging 26.6 minutes, the freshman 14.7. They are rarely on the floor together, although Williams said Miller and Profit could team if Maryland needs a big lineup.

Pub Date: 12/04/98

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