- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 1, 2003

The Maryland Terrapins will play Duke and Virginia in a home-and-home series each men’s basketball season under a new format that will in some years reduce their other ACC rivalries to once-a-season meetings.

ACC officials, meeting yesterday in Charlottesville, announced changes in the formula that determines the league’s basketball and football schedules, changes that will take effect in the seasons that begin in 2004. They will be evaluated for fairness and balance after two years.

The new formats were prompted by the addition of Virginia Tech and Miami to the ACC this summer and also allow for the addition of a 12th team if the league soon decides to add Boston College.

In men’s basketball, each school was given two “primary partners” that it will play at home and on the road each season. Maryland’s partners are regional rival Virginia and national power Duke. The Terps will play four other ACC schools at home and on the road each season and the remaining four schools just once each.

That means each team will play every other team at least once each season, but they won’t face each team on their home floor. In some seasons, for example, the Terps might face North Carolina only once, and that game might be in Chapel Hill.

Conference standings will remain the same, with the top five seeds receiving first-round byes in the league tournament.

Terps basketball coach Gary Williams said the new format will have a “dramatic impact” on regular-season play.

“It changes everything completely,” Williams said. “You used to play everyone twice and knew who the best team was. Now you can get lucky and not play the best teams twice and get the regular-season title. … It’s the price of expansion.”

In football, each team will play eight of the other 10 ACC opponents every season, and each school has a designated rival that it will meet each season. Maryland’s designated rival is Virginia.

The 11-member ACC will be split into two six-team divisions if another school is added, an addition that would let the league meet the 12-team NCAA requirement for staging a conference football championship game. Maryland’s division would include Clemson, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Florida State and the new team. Virginia’s divisional rivals would be Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech, Duke and North Carolina.

The Terps will play their divisional opponents plus Virginia, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech over the next two years, plus four non-conference teams. They will not play Miami until 2006.

“Any way you cut it, it will be tougher,” Terps football coach Ralph Friedgen said. “It could be worse. We could be playing Miami. … [Fans] will have a lot of fun with it. I don’t know if I will.”

Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow said the Terps “fared well” under the new system.

“There were no surprises,” she said. “We wanted Duke in basketball. In general, I would characterize the schedules as fair and equitable.”

The ACC’s expansion largely was driven by the $9million in television revenue the league hopes to generate by staging a championship game in football. The NCAA has rejected the ACC’s request for a waiver to hold such a game without 12 teams in the conference.

ACC sources said the league has courted Notre Dame but that Boston College is the school most likely to be added. Connecticut and Pittsburgh also are possibilities.

Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden said that expansion will ensure that the ACC — historically regarded as a premier basketball conference — also ranks among the national powers in football.

“I think it will [bring] a lot more attention to the Atlantic Coast Conference, a lot more, because Florida has always been an SEC [state],” Bowden said. “It was kind of like Miami and us were kind of outside looking in all the time. Now, all of a sudden, you’ve got Miami and Florida State paired up together, which might make this conference as good as any of them in the country with regard to football.

“Basketball, it’s always been one of, or maybe the strongest conference in the country. Baseball — it might be the strongest baseball conference in the country. With Miami getting in here with Virginia Tech and two of us operating out of the state of Florida, the football conference jumps up in quality as well.”

Note — Maryland returner Steve Suter said he expects to play against Clemson on Saturday, then undergo surgery for a torn knee meniscus Monday. Suter was limited in practice yesterday, but he said his left knee has improved.

Guard Lamar Bryant (shoulder), running back Bruce Perry (high ankle sprain) and receiver Jafar Williams (hand) are also expected to play.

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