Atlanta, GA – The top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels will seeded Maryland Terrapins in the quarterfinal round of the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
UNC will be looking for its third victory over the Terrapins this season. The Tar Heels dominated Maryland, 88-64, on Feb. 29 in their most recent meeting. UNC holds a 117-57 edge in the all-time series. UNC's defense forced Maryland into 17 turnovers in the last bout, a key to the lopsided win.
Maryland is carrying some momentum into the quarterfinal round after its 82-60 victory over the ninth-seeded Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Terps shot a season-high 54.4 percent from the field on Thursday to begin the postseason with a bang. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for coach Mark Turgeon's team which has shown steady improvement. The Terps ended the season with a tough 75-72 overtime loss to the Virginia Cavaliers. The offensive performance against Virginia was exceptional, as the Cavaliers are leading the ACC in scoring defense with an allowed average of only 53.2 ppg.
North Carolina has tremendous offensive depth itself, as it leads the ACC in scoring with an average of 82.3 ppg. The fourth-ranked Tar Heels ended the regular season on a seven-game winning streak to take over sole possession of first place in the league standings. UNC will be looking to add to its collection of 17 ACC Tournament titles this season. Coach Roy Williams led the Tar Heels to titles in 2007 and 2008, but has failed to win one since. UNC lost in last year's title game to arch-rival Duke. The Tar Heels are the heavy favorites to win this year, as they come in with the best overall record in the league and placed three players on the All-ACC First Team.
The Terps did not have any players on the All-ACC First team, but a strong case could be made that Terrell Stoglin deserved one of the five spots. The sophomore guard, who led the ACC in scoring during the regular season by more than 100 points, used his first team snub as motivation in the first round, as he netted 25 points to lead the squad to victory. Nick Faust followed Stoglin's lead and added 19 points of his own, while James Padgett and Alex Len each submitted strong performances in the frontcourt.
Maryland's forwards will need to play even better in the quarterfinal round, as they will square off with the All-ACC First Team selections Tyler Zeller and John Henson. Zeller was named the ACC Player of the Year, and Maryland can not argue his selection after he averaged 26 points and 7.5 boards against the Terps this season. Zeller probably would be grabbing more rebounds if Henson was not playing with him. But Henson has been the most aggressive player in the ACC on the glass as he leads the league with 10.3 rebounds per game. All-ACC First-Teamer Harrison Barnes gives UNC an excellent scoring option from the wing, while Kendall Marshall (Second-Team All-ACC) acts as a floor general. Marshall is the ACC's active leader in assists with 529, despite being only a sophomore.