The Maryland Terrapins were a longshot to earn an NCAA tournament bid before this weekend’s game at Virginia, but the overtime loss to the Cavaliers almost certainly means the Terps will have to win the ACC tournament to dance.
In other words, don’t expect to pencil Maryland in on your brackets in 2013.
The Terps’ 61-58 loss in overtime was a heartbreaking end to the regular season, especially after a strong start that put Virginia’s 16-game home winning streak in jeopardy.
The Terps dominated Virginia in the first half, putting together what @insidemdsports blogger Jakob Engelke called “one of Maryland’s best stretches of play over 20 minutes this season.”
At one point, Maryland went on a 19-2 run and held a 17 point lead over the Cavaliers, but as they did so many times this season, the Terps unraveled. Maryland guard Nick Faust led both teams with 13 points at halftime, but he scored just two more in the rest of the game. The Terps had more than twice as many rebounds (21) as Virginia (9) at the break, but by the final tally, the Cavaliers had nearly caught up, with 34 rebounds to Maryland’s 40.
Virginia’s leading shooter, Joe Harris, who was second in the ACC in points per game with 17.1, was just 1-for-7 in the first half, but he still finished with 15 points. Akil Mitchell led the Cavs with 17 points and 10 rebounds, but some of the biggest plays came from freshman Mike Tobey off the bench. Tobey’s back-to-back shots in the first half ended Maryland’s 19-2 run and helped jumpstart the Virginia comeback, and his jump shot with five seconds remaining sent the game into overtime.
The loss gives Maryland an 8-10 record in regular season conference play, and their 21-11 overall record and weak nonconference schedule won’t help the Terps’ case for making the tournament.
Heading into this weekend, it seemed like Maryland’s only remaining options to make the cut were to beat Virginia on the road and get to the finals of the ACC tournament or to win the conference tourney outright.
The Terps came close to beating Virginia for a quality road win, but one great half wasn’t good enough. Turnovers and poor shooting – Pe’Shon Howard missed a potential game-winner at the end of regulation, and Dez Wells missed at the buzzer at the end of overtime – were once again the disappointing story for Maryland, and the team’s consistent struggles on the road make it highly unlikely they’ll survive the ACC tournament.
Maryland plays Wake Forest on Thursday night; the winner goes on to play Duke Friday. Virginia’s NCAA tournament hopes are still alive after the team’s impressive comeback; the Cavs have a first-round bye and will take on the winner of NC State – Virginia Tech this Friday.