The Washington Times - March 4, 2009, 01:55AM

No one really wanted to hear this tonight, but Maryland couldn’t help itself with a victory over Wake Forest more than it could harm itself with a loss at Virginia.

So missing out on a win? Sure, it stinks.


But the reality is the Terrapins could not afford to lose at Virginia, a well-below-.500 team that happens to have a 100+ RPI.

They couldn’t afford it three weeks ago. They couldn’t afford it heading into what became a 65-63 loss to Wake Forest. And they surely cannot afford it now.

There are few absolutes in the fluid realm of reading the tealeaves for NCAA tournament selection. But one of them is you’d better not offer up reasons to be excluded. If so, chances are you’ll be playing in front of 6,000 in the NIT.

Kansas State? They squandered their last chance at a good victory to offset a horrid nonconference strength of schedule, losing at Oklahoma State.

Georgetown? The Hoyas gave back pretty much all the goodwill they engendered by winning at Villanova with a setback at St. John’s.

Cincinnati? How to put this politely? How’s this: Thou shalt not lose to South Florida, anywhere. Not in Tampa. Not at home. Not on the moon.

By comparison, losing to a top-20 RPI team at home isn’t as damaging. And indeed it isn’t.

But losing either of the next two —- at Virginia and against a marginal tournament team (at best) in the ACC tournament opener —- will be for the Terps.

—- Patrick Stevens