“I thought Northwestern was the better team,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said after his Terps lost to the Wildcats for the first time in five games since joining the Big Ten. (Baltimore Sun video)
The bracketologists have had them on a collision course for much of the season, with both occasionally going off track by way of winning streaks, losing streaks and simply just too much guesswork.
Yet as the months have become weeks, the weeks become days and now the days turn into mere hours before the selections are announced for this year's NCAA tournament Sunday night, the reality is this.
Maryland and Duke just might play again.
Be careful what you wish for, Terps fans.
Duke's march to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. -- highlighted by Friday's comeback win over rival North Carolina -- coincided with Maryland's disappearance from the Big Ten tournament at Verizon Center in Washington after its second-half collapse against Northwestern.
As a result, ESPN.com moved the Blue Devils up to a second seed, kept the Terps as a No. 7 seed and – voila! – have the the former ACC rivals on pace to play each other in Greenville, S.C. as part of the East Region. In ESPN's bracket, if Maryland gets past 10th-seeded Vanderbilt, the Terps would face the winner of the Duke-Iona matchup.
Not that everyone is in agreement that the Terps and Blue Devils are headed to the same pod.
CBS Sports moved Duke up to a No. 2 seed, and dropped the Terps from a No. 5 seed to a No. 6 seed in the Midwest.
Maryland could get another ACC team, Florida State, in Orlando in the Round of 32. It certainly wouldn't have the same kind of buzz, though it would be an equally tough draw given the size and athleticism of the Seminoles, who have always been a good defensive team under Leonard Hamilton.
Maryland played the Demon Deacons in a closed scrimmage (reportedly won by Wake Forest) before the season because Mark Turgeon and Danny Manning were teammates at Kansas and remain close friends.
A lot can change between now and Sunday night, but many Maryland fans are hoping for another shot at Coach K and the Blue Devils. Given the way the teams played Friday, be careful what you wish for, Terps fans.