The Washington Times - March 1, 2009, 11:11PM

RALEIGH, N.C. —- Step away from the emotional rollercoaster instigated by the environment in College Park and think about this for a moment.

Here are the last nine games a certain red-and-white clad team (not N.C. State) has put together:


* Five-point home defeat of Miami

* Defense-optional loss at North Carolina that featured some competent offense

* A one-point road victory at an athletic but incohesive Georgia Tech team —- while playing without a starting point guard

* A 10-point home defeat of a comparable conference opponent

* A 29-point drubbing at the hands of a bigger, badder, more athletic Clemson team

* A 3-point overtime defeat of a team most people will pencil into a trip to Ford Field when Selection Sunday rolls around in a fortnight

* An 11-point loss to a more talented Duke team after playing the Blue Devils even for 34 minutes

* An 11-point defeat of N.C. State on the road

It’s a 5-4 record. But it’s a pretty good 5-4 record.

Take away the drama of As The Turtle Turns, and this isn’t a bad team. Not a great one, mind you. Great teams don’t lose by 41 and 29 points.

But Maryland isn’t bad, and it is better than it was six weeks ago.

(Time for a prediction revisitation; my preseason call was 18-12, 6-10 in the ACC. One of those has been matched, the other surpassed with a week left in the regular season).

It makes for an interesting final week —- and things could still go in any sort of direction.

But at this stage, it’s certain not to be boring. Not at all.

—- Patrick Stevens