Byline: Patrick Stevens, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
There's not as much pressure on ninth-ranked Maryland this week, but the Terrapins still have plenty of motivation entering this weekend's ACC tournament.
The Terps (6-5) meet No. 3 Virginia (9-2) in tonight's ACC semifinals at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, a rematch of Virginia's 10-2 victory earlier this month. A win would all but assure an NCAA tournament berth for the Terps, who finally broke out of a 1-4 slide with a 9-6 win Saturday at Fairfield.
"Monday was a lot easier - it's hard doing what you do for a living when you don't have any success at it," Maryland coach Dave Cottle said. "We didn't play exceptionally well [the first time against Virginia], so we get a chance to get a do-over."
A loss would force the Terps to defeat Penn (2-10) on May 7 to clinch a .500 record and postseason eligibility. A weekend sweep - a feat that might require topping two of the top three teams in the nation - could vault Maryland into contention for a top-four NCAA tournament seed.
"We're more interested in beating Virginia," said Cottle, whose team won last year's ACC tournament. "We have some kids with a lot of pride, and we got shellacked the first time. We have to step up."
The ACC will play its tournament at a pro stadium for the first time, lending an atmosphere of significance to an event that doesn't carry an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament despite its quality field. That could be enough to make for a smallish crowd that won't approach the 40,000-plus the NCAA semifinals and final drew last season in Baltimore. …