If you're a Maryland fan, you might not want to move on so quickly to the North Carolina game, right? There were so many things for you to savor about the Wake Forest win.
Before looking forward, let's note a few items about Maryland's best-played game of the season. If this were midseason and you were feeling a shiny-happy sort of optimism, you might have called this a breakout game because so many things happened that coaches had long hoped to see. But it's March.
* It was Terrell Stoglin's most complete game of the season. He scored 25 points but took just 14 shots – fewer than in any game since Pe'Shon Howard's season-ending knee injury. His seven rebounds were a career high. His four assists matched his season best.
* Something clicked on for Nick Faust during the last North Carolina game, when he had 17 points, then a career best. He's been good ever since and had 19 points against Wake. He will occasionally make freshman mistakes – errant passes and other turnovers – but Turgeon said Faust is just too good to sit these days. The main thing is, Faust is now feeling comfortable.
Strange thing: I almost never do this, but I made a prediction before the Wake game, tweeting that Maryland (particularly Alex Len and Faust) would come out with energy. It just seemed like the Terps – especially those two guys for whom this is their first ACC tournament – seemed jazzed to be here in Atlanta. So much of basketball is about outlook and energy.
If you're Maryland seeking confidence against North Carolina, you might want to look more closely at the Feb. 4 game at Comcast Center (83-74 Carolina) than the more recent encounter (88-64 at the Dean Dome).
The latter game was Tyler Zeller's last home contest, and he was rewarded with – I mean he earned – 23 free throws, making 20.
On Friday, it won't be a Carolina home game "and it won't be Senior Day," Maryland's Berend Weijs told me.
Still, it's hard to imagine a team potentially posing more problems for Maryland. The Terps just can't match up with Carolina's Zeller and John Henson. The Tar Heels' rebounding poses a double-whammy: they get second and third shots, and they can get out and run with point guard Kendall Marshall.
Here's what Maryland needs – for Len to stay out of foul trouble, as he did Thursday, and for Ashton Pankey to break out big time. Pankey had no points and no rebounds in the last meeting.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said the Tar Heels made a point in the last game of trying to "crowd" Stoglin and rotate different defenders toward him.
If North Carolina again keys on Stoglin – as almost everyone does these days – perhaps Faust, who is loving life lately, can light it up. Maryland would need every last point.