Yes, it was an eminently disappointing game, but it was disappointing for the right reasons: Maryland played extremely well, almost well enough to win. The last two games (plus the Clemson first half) have been very good against very good competition, even though Maryland only came out of it with one win.
Before anything else, I have a bit of a PSA: This was not a must-win game. A lot of people are saying that Maryland needs something huge to get in now, but nothing has changed. Go 2-1, get one in the ACCT, and we're in. That's not to say that we won't be sweating on Sunday, but all signs point to that being enough. But more on this later.
The game yesterday came down to very few factors. You could throw almost every stat, except these of course, out of the window. These four factors are the reasons Maryland ended up losing.
- I wish the ACC kept stats on who wins lose balls. Duke got almost every free ball last night, which often led to easy baskets.
- Maryland's strength all year long - indeed, it kept them in many games - has been free throw shooting. Maryland had an extremely disappointing performance here - 16-25. Nine misses. That's 67% on the night. If Maryland had made four more free throws at clutch moments (like the two Greivis missed) momentum could've switched and the game could've turned out different.
- Rebounding was surprisingly poor last night. Duke doesn't have a huge size advantage, but ended up with 11 more boards, including 13 on offense.
- No, I don't think you can completely put this on the refs, but there were a lot of very iffy calls. To say the least, it wasn't a game that was called evenly and consistently, especially when it came to Greivis Vasquez and Gerald Henderson.
- Nice to see Landon Milbourne return. He had a monster game. Gary needs to realize that he's the Terps' best halfcourt weapon. That mid-range jumper is money.
- Eric Hayes was great last night. I won't blame Greivis for his phantom fouls, but I will commend Hayes on a great performance. Very in control, very steady, and kept Maryland in the game until GV came in (and fouled out). After that, no one played well.
- Sean Mosley was great until that injury. He was shutting down Gerald Henderson, but he clearly changed after the injury. He was hobbling around a little more, and seemed to have lost some mobility.
- I could see Hayes going in for Bowie against NCSt. Not saying it's a probability, but Bowie's had a tough stretch and, despite some great plays last night, has been inconsistent. He also doesn't seem to be a true PG. He can play when needed, but I really think the team would benefit from having a calming presence at point.
- Cliff Tucker was disappointing. His offense was really needed, and he just didn't have it.
- Where was Jerome Burney? He would've be a good matchup against a less athletic Duke team, one would think.
- As I mentioned earlier, win two of three plus one in the tourney and Maryland is in. I honestly think Maryland could win out and get two in the ACCT, which would be good enough for a 7 seed in the NCAAT, but it's unnecessary. Providence, Va Tech, and BC all had some big wins, but there were more than three open spots in the tourney. Plus, all three could lose a big game between now and March.