So much for Maryland's road to the ACC title. Thanks for the jinx, Stu.
These conference tournaments are strange animals. No other setting lends itself more readily to games like tonight's—when one team thrashes for its life like a drowning cat, while the other floats by sipping lemonade in an inflatable duck.
In the second half, Maryland discarded the duck to fight back from 16 down, but Georgia Tech managed to tame its panic this time and pull it out, 69-64.
With the win, GT punched its dance card for next week, while Maryland succumbs to the same upset bug that has infected Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Florida State.
So far, only Duke (surprise!) has been able to avoid it.
Credit where it's due: The Yellow Jackets played outstanding ball. Plenty of people speculated that GT might quit on their coach. Didn't happen. They outrebounded Maryland 38-28. They shot a ridiculous 67 percent from three-point land.
Iman Shumpert played brilliant defense on Greivis Vasquez, culminating with a quick-handed strip that prevented the ACC Player of the Year—who was 6-of-21 shooting on the night—from getting off the potentially game-winning shot.
Add in 14 points and four assists, and Shumpert's your Paris Hilton Honorary No-Brainer Player of the Game.
Still, it's not like Georgia Tech suddenly became a different team. It was the same song and dance for GT—world beaters one minute, egg beaters the next.
After watching Derrick Favors, Gani Lawal, and Zach Peacock dominate the boards in the first 10 minutes, then watching its only player taller than 6'7" get in early foul trouble, Maryland seemed to essentially cede the painted ground in favor of more ball pressure.
Six scant minutes into the second half, Georgia Tech had committed 10 turnovers. It's not hard to understand the frustration GT fans have with head coach Paul Hewitt. The Jackets lost the ability to cleanly inbound the basketball—and it took a really long time for them to regain that ability.
I think, in a way, some GT fans were almost hoping for a loss so there would be a clear-cut reason to fire Hewitt and start fresh. But it won't be that simple.
Not to say the fans aren't happy for the win, but you get what I'm saying.
As for Maryland, they still look good for a fifth or sixth seed.
And hey, look on the bright side, Terp fans. This is probably the least-stressful ACC tourney we've had in quite a while—and I'll take it, even with the upset.
After all, I've got dinner plans this weekend.