and Maryland ended the Terrapins
' ACC history by beating No. 5 Virginia. (Mitch Stringer/USA Today Sports)
Maryland's final season in the ACC will not end with a trip to the NCAA tournament unless it pulls off an unlikely run and wins the conference's automatic bid. The Terrapins will head into that challenge coming off their best win of the season and one final victory over their border rival Virginia. But they nearly let the win slip away in spectacular fashion.
The Terrapins had the game well in hand in the waning seconds, and the fans started lining up for a court storm. Jake Layman's free throws with 4.1 seconds left gave them a 64-61 lead, and they immediately fouled Malcolm Brogdon to prevent the Cavaliers from getting a shot at a three. Brogdon made the first and missed the second on purpose. The rebound clanged off a Terrapin and out of bounds, giving the Cavs one final shot to tie the game. Anthony Gill got a wide open look in the middle of the lane off a perfectly run inbounds play and knocked it down to force overtime.
From there on, however, Maryland dominated the action. The Terrapins never trailed in the extra period and Virginia never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead. In their last ACC regular season game before decamping for the Big Ten next year, the fans did get the court storm they were looking for as the Terrapins upended No. 5 Virginia 75-69. Seth Allen led the team with 20 points, and Dez Wells had 18 on 5-of-7 shooting and 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
The loss snapped Virginia's 13-game win streak and was just their second in the conference this season. The Cavaliers hadn't lost since January 13, when they narrowly fell at Duke. Since then, they've picked up wins over North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, risen to the top of the ACC standings and put themselves in the discussion for a No. 1 seed. That campaign took a serious hit with the loss, but it is still within the realm of possibility.
Virginia, of course, isn't the only contender for that final No. 1 seed that faltered this week. Kansas, Duke and Syracuse all harbor dreams for that spot and suffered damaging losses in the last seven days. Duke and Syracuse may have taken themselves out of contention for the top line with their losses, and Kansas would set a record for most losses by a No. 1 seed if the committee ultimately decides the Jayhawks deserve it. Heading into the power conference tournaments, Wisconsin and Villanova may be the co-favorites to join Florida, Wichita State and Arizona, at the top of a region.
Still, if Virginia wins the ACC conference tournament, it could end up picking up wins over two of North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse, and would have a championship sweep in one of the country's best conferences. It may likely need Wisconsin or Villanova to stumble at some point, but the Cavaliers hopes for a No. 1 seed have not completely evaporated.