Sometimes after you sleep on a loss, you feel better about it the next day. That's pretty much the case for this one.
There's still that feeling in the pit of my stomach, probably stemming from the shot clock violation and the fact I'll still have to watch more basketball today. But despite the blown call, despite the awful start, despite the assurance that one of Paul Hewitt or Sidney Lowe will be in the ACC championship game, I'm feeling better about the loss than I was last night. And, really, there are quite a few positives to draw from the game, alongside the negatives you can probably think of on your own.
Landon Milbourne was quietly solid. He had his struggles, but ended up with 15 points and 6 rebounds, the first time he topped 10 points in the last 7 games. He's been wearing down physically, but this was a moderately encouraging performance; hopefully it's indicative of a second wind. When healthy, he adds a lot to Maryland's offensive game.
Maryland's second half comeback was promising. The pressure worked flawlessly against a guard-weak team, and they can only hope they get a similarly troubled team in the tournament. GT turned the ball over 25 times, 16 in the second half comeback, and Maryland generally made good use of them, turning them into points with some regularity.
Maryland shot terribly...and still almost won. Ala the Wake Forest game and Clemson games, Maryland played extraordinarily poorly, yet still came within a busted call of having a tie game in the final minute. They shot 10% below their season average, and 19% worse than usual from 3. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech shot 30% better from 3, and 9% better from the field than they usually do. If either of those had curved any closer to the average, this is a markedly different game. Considering that Maryland had their open looks, it was more of a bad day than a major problem.
No new problems were introduced. Georgia Tech took advantage of what we knew Maryland couldn't do well, and then got lucky when Maryland didn't hit the shots given to them. That's not to take away from their accomplishments, but it's not like all of a sudden Greivis Vasquez started to turn the ball over with regularity, or Iman Shumpert took the game over with penetration. I suppose that's a good thing.
It had to happen some time. In probability, the previous events do not change the next's chances. But in reality, that's not the case. Let's face it, Maryland would have to lose at some point, and pressure and anxiety would mount with every win. I wish it wasn't in the first round, but it's a reverse "monkey off the back" sort of a feeling. The NCAA tournament will be a lot more "normal", if you will, only they'll be a little hungrier to avenge the loss.
Back to Earth. Along the lines of the last one, this loss assures that Maryland won't get ahead of themselves. It keeps the team humble and grounded - they know that they are human and that they can be beaten. In the long run for the NCAA tournament, that's a good thing.