GREENSBORO -- Maryland, which doesn’t even want to be in the ACC, had to go and screw up the tournament for everyone who does -- although, to be fair, Duke did most of the screwing up Friday night.
A thoroughly dismal defensive performance from the Blue Devils in an 83-74 loss to the Terrapins deprived the expectant crowd of a Saturday semifinal meeting with North Carolina, although the Tar Heels still had work to do against Florida State later Friday night, no gimme either.
Losing for the first time this season with Ryan Kelly in the lineup, the Blue Devils produced the kind of matador defense that has so often led to their early exit from the NCAA tournament -- against Virginia Commonwealth in 2007, against West Virginia in 2008, against Villanova in 2009, against Arizona in 2011, against Lehigh in 2012.
(Seen in that light, 2010 looks like an outlier. But that’s a discussion for another day.)
As common as they have been later in the postseason, those kind of collapses, particularly defending attacks from the perimeter, have been rare in the ACC tournament, and it’s certainly worrying from Duke’s perspective to see it happen in such familiar surroundings -- the Blue Devils had won the last three ACC tournaments held in Greensboro.
Duke's last ACC tourney loss in here? The 2004 title game. In overtime. Against Maryland. The Blue Devils had been 14-1 in ACC tournament games here since 1998. Throw in the Lehigh game, and Duke's lost two straight in Greensboro.
So there’s plenty of work to be done over the next week for Duke, which may have endangered not only its chances to be a No. 1 seed but its preferred destinations of Philadelphia (subregional) and Washington (regional) as well. Results elsewhere will have something to say about that, but the Blue Devils didn’t help their case.
Raleigh's Dez Wells (Word of God) had a career-high 30 points for the Terrapins, in their second-to-last ACC tournament, giving them a chance to continue to wreck everyone else’s fun on their way out the door.