The college basketball gods -- or at least ESPN’s Joe Lunardi -- want to see Maryland play Duke.
The unbeaten Terps, who will go after their 11th straight victory to start the 2019-20 season Tuesday at Penn State after narrowly averting losing to Illinois at home Saturday, went up a spot to become the No. 1 seed in the East in the latest NCAA tournament bracketology released Monday.
According to Lunardi, Maryland and Duke would begin their journey toward a possible showdown at New York’s Madison Square Garden in the Elite 8, together at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum, site of two of the three ACC tournament victories for the Terps, in 1984 under Lefty Driesell and in 2004 under Gary Williams.
Along with Maryland, Louisville (South), Ohio State (Midwest) and Kansas (West) are Lunardi’s other No. 1 seeds.
The Terps and Blue Devils, who have not played since Maryland left the Atlantic Coast Conference after the 2013-14 season, could have met in last year’s Sweet 16 at Capital One Arena in Washington. The Terps lost in the second round in Jacksonville, Florida, on a last-second shot by LSU’s Tremont Waters.
Last week, officials from both leagues as well as ESPN told The Baltimore Sun that the decision not to pair the two teams in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge had to do with schedule rematches of two Elite 8 games from last year’s tournament while bringing Notre Dame to College Park.
None of the games turned out to be close. The No. 3 Terps beat the Fighting Irish, 72-51. No. 10 Duke beat No. 11 Michigan State, 87-75, in East Lansing and unranked Purdue walloped No. 5 Virginia, 69-40, in West Lafayette, Indiana.
The Terps stayed unbeaten at 10-0, matching the best start in school history (first set in 1998-99), by beating Illinois, 59-58, Saturday.
Trailing by 15 points early in the second half, senior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. tied the game with a 35-foot 3-pointer with 19 seconds to go and won it with a free throw with 2.1 seconds remaining, forcing a turnover and then getting fouled.
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