The Upstate Life
The Upstate Life

Wednesday, March 01, 2006
No More Than Four?

How is it possible that the ACC, one of the premiere college basketball conferences in the nation, will only bring four teams to the Big Dance this year? While we're aware that it's a down year for the Atlantic Coast Conference, four teams are simply inexcusable. The fact that Wake Forest, a team that made it to the second round of last year's tournament after falling to West Virginia, hasn't even reached qualification for this year's NIT is just bananas. Conference expansion to 12 teams certainly hasn't necessarily helped matters either. The demise of the double round-robin schedule, where each teams plays their opponent both on the road and at home, was one of the biggest adjustments after BC, Virginia Tech, and Miami came aboard. While I'm all for Maryland having to play Clemson only once this season, it doesn't help when our only game against them this year was on the road. Speaking of the Terps, as much as I'm the optimist, I've finally forced myself to believing that this team simply doesn't possess fundamental basketball skills. Tonight is Senior Night, Maryland's last home game of the regular season. Let's take a look of who will/will not be attending:

Chris McCray - Co-captain who, despite being the team's best scorer, ball-handler, and defender, failed to get over a 2.0 cumulative GPA in his senior year at Maryland. Declared academically ineligible and ended his final season at College Park a semester prematurely. Terps proceeded to lose seven out of their last nine after McCray was booted from the team. Was also arrested over the summer for refusing to leave scene of a fight in downtown College Park. Charges were later dropped. Will supposedly not be attending tonight according to Gary Williams via Comcast SportsNet.

Travis Garrison - Despite being a McDonald's All-American in high school, Garrison failed to meet expectations. Perhaps the softest big man to ever play for Maryland. Spent the majority of the 2005-2006 season coming off the bench while sophomore James Gist started over him. Charged with sexual assault at a College Park bar last month and was suspended one game for his actions. Will not be starting tonight.

John Gilchrist - Incredibly talented point guard that left the Terps after his junior year due to tensions between the coach/team and aspirations for playing in the NBA. Gilchrist single-handedly won the 2004 ACC Championship for the Terps after defeating Duke in overtime, their first under Gary Williams. Has been playing professional ball in Israel, averaging 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. Will obviously not be in attendance.

Sterling Ledbetter - Junior college transfer point guard who started several games last season after Gilchrist suffered an injury. Comes off the bench routinely to replace starter DJ Strawberry this season. Will probably be the case tonight.

Nik Caner-Medley - Hands-down MVP of the season. Lone captain of the team once McCray was declared ineligible. Caner-Medley really stepped it up after the loss of McCray, it's just too bad we didn't see this type of play from him during his last three seasons with the team. I really feel for the guy because as much effort he's put in the last few months, he really deserves more than another NIT appearance. Hopefully he'll make it to the NBA since he definitely possesses the talent, heart, and desire to win. Will be his last career home starting appearance.

Well there you have it. Maryland (6-8) would need to win their two last games in order to reach .500. They play tonight against a struggling Miami team that they've already lost to on the road, then play UVA in the Cavaliers' last home game at University Hall. A victory there, which unfortunately would not accomplish much in the selection committee's eyes, will prove to be a difficult task. Even if the Terps reach 8-8, they would need at least two ACC Tournament wins to cement any chance of seeding in this year's March Madness. However, first thing's first, and that's securing the W tonight.

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