The University of Maryland’s men’s basketball team upset ninth-ranked Wake Forest 75-64 tonight ina ACC tournament quarter-final game. By doing so, the Terps are said, by those who claim to know, to have all but won a place in the NCAA tournament (since I’m not a “bracketologist” — i.e., a geek posing as a sports fan — I can’t really assess this claim).
I can say that, for Maryland even seriously to be in the tournament conversation, marks this season as one of the finest coaching ever by the great but embattled Gary Williams. This year’s squad, picked to finish 11th in the ACC, is nearly devoid of big-time talent. It is also devoid of big players. The starting “bigs” are Landon Milbourne at 6-7 207 pounds and Dave Neal who is listed at 6-7 but may not even be 6-6. Neal, a senior, is completely unheralded, having averaged less than 2 points and 1.5 rebounds per game last year.
Naturally, Maryland has frequently struggled on the boards against quality opposition. For example, less than two weeks ago, Wake Forest outrebounded the Terps 46-27 in a two point victory. Tonight, though, Maryland somehow managed to turn the tables, grabbing nine more rebounds than Wake. That and a hellacious zone defense by the man-to-man oriented Terps (along with some poor shooting by Wake, to be sure) told the tale.