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