So long, Carolina bias. So long, Tobacco Road. It's been real.
With one thunderous dunk, Maryland's time in the ACC came to a smashing halt, ended by a 7'3" player who's name sounds and looks very similar to one of the ACC's leading sponsors, Bojangles.
In a season that suffered through one difficult gut punching loss after another, was there any other way this game could have ended? Decided with 0.4 seconds left by a player scoring his 11th and 12th points of the game, doubling his season average in the process?
This one was really hard, though. That dunk ended a 61-year era in the blink of an eye, crushing the hopes of an improbable ACC Tournament championship run that had crept into the minds of many Maryland fans on the ten year anniversary of the Terps' last ACC Tournament title.
"It's been a tough year," Mark Turgeon said following Thursday's loss. "You know, the thing I'm most proud of, though, is a lot of teams would have quit. A lot of teams wouldn't have played spirited basketball the way we did all the way through."
Maryland certainly battled, doing so without junior Evan Smotrycz, who was dealing with back spasms and unexpectedly didn't play on Thursday. They also had to overcome the loss of Charles MItchell, who missed a portion of the game due to a dislocated finger(s) suffered while going up for a rebound.
"Each loss hurts, man, regardless of the tournament that you're in, or at least that's how it is for me," Dez Wells said following the loss to Florida State. "And I know for Coach Turgeon and the rest of our guys, each loss hurts equally as bad."
The loss means Maryland has played their final ACC conference game, which hopefully means an end to the extreme backlash from opposing fans throughout the conference. But despite that outrage, both Mark Turgeon and Dez Wells spoke highly of the ACC following the loss.
"For the ACC, it was a great ride," Wells said following the game. "There's no other way to put it, it was a great ride. We appreciate everything the ACC has done for us, but I guess new beginnings now for us. And at this point, man, we've just got to pick ourselves up and get ready for the next game."
"We knew what it meant to our people," Turgeon said. "We're going to miss it. It's a great league, great coaches. We're going to miss Greensboro. It was a great tournament, well run. We're going to miss that part of it. But the good thing is we're going to another great league, great coaches, great tournament."
Now, Maryland will head back home to College Park, awaiting their faith in what will likely be a second consecutive trip to the NIT. They'll make one last trip up I-85, closing the door on 61 years of memories and rivalries, but the traditions of the ACC died long before, when conference expansion first reared it's ugly head back in 2004.
Now, Maryland is moving on to B1Gger and better things.