Maryland Needs to Make a Major Splash in the ACC Tournament
The University of Maryland men's lacrosse team is playing for more than NCAA tournament seeding this weekend in Durham, N.C.
More than any other team in the four-team event that begins Friday at Duke, the Terrapins need to win this thing to gain a dose of deep confidence for next month's real playoffs.
Sure, Maryland is ranked No. 6 and is a senior-laden team with a stable of midfielders that have elevated their games in 2011.
But the Terps, for all of their impressive numbers -- they are 8-3 and packed with good shooters, a solid defense, a great faceoff man and an exciting transition game -- are still playing with a seed of doubt in their minds.
Maryland has beaten one top-10 team in Virginia, on a day when occasionally-suspended Shamel Bratton was forced to sit out. The Terps have otherwise lost to No. 6 Duke, No. 9 North Carolina and No. 2 Johns Hopkins.
Getting out-worked by Duke in an overtime loss early this spring was bad enough. But the Terps have blown big leads against the Tar Heels -- whom they face in the ACC semifinals on Friday -- and the Blue Jays. Both teams are much younger than Maryland.
Nearly four weeks ago, the Terps inexplicably caved to Carolina, which went to a zone defense after falling behind, 4-0, and dominated the final three quarters of an 11-6 victory. Then came last week's collapse against Hopkins, which erased an 8-3 deficit in the third quarter, then finished off the Terps in OT.
The Maryland seniors are desperate to win the school's first national crown since 1975. But the Terps have not been to Memorial Day weekend since 2006, and my hunch is they need to win it all in Durham to provide the push that will make a Memorial Day celebration possible.