Greensboro, NC (Sports Network) - The second-ranked Duke Blue Devils begin postseason play on Friday evening, as they take on the Maryland Terrapins in the quarterfinals of the 60th-annual Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils fell behind Miami-Florida in the conference standings with a couple of losses in January, and despite a late run down the stretch with wins in three straight and five of its last six games, could not catch the Hurricanes, instead finishing a game out of the top spot at 27-4 overall and 14-4 in the ACC. No stranger to tournament success, Duke is seeking its 20th ACC Tournament title, and boasts of a stellar 91-40 mark in the event all-time. In addition, the Blue Devils are closing in on 2,000 victories as a program, currently sitting at 1,998 wins and will become just the fourth school ever to reach that mark shortly.
Mark Turgeon's Terrapins don't have quite the lengthy tournament resume that Duke has. Maryland came into tournament play this year with a record of 45-55 in this event, with three tournament titles to its credit, the last coming in 2004. The Terps added to their win total with a 75-62 first-round win over Wake Forest on Thursday to move to 21-11 overall. Despite reaching the 20-win plateau this year, wins in-conference were harder to come by for UM during the regular season, with an 8-10 record, good for just the seven-seed.
Duke holds a 113-62 advantage in the all-time series with Maryland, as the two teams split a pair of meetings this year, each winning on its home floor.
The winner of this game will take on either Florida State or North Carolina in Saturday's semifinal round.
The Terrapins came into the postseason averaging just over 70 points per game on the year, doing so on an efficient .464 shooting (third in the ACC). Defense was also a strength, with Maryland leading the conference in both field-goal percentage defense (.379) and rebounding margin (+9.2). Sophomore Dez Wells led the way offensively for Maryland at 12.2 ppg. Fellow sophomore Alex Len was more than serviceable in the middle, as the 7-footer ranked fifth in the league in rebounding (8.1 rpg).
Trailing by five points at the half, the Terrapins outscored the Demon Deacons 45-27 over the final 20 minutes to run away with the first-round victory. Wells led five Terps in double figures with 21 points. Len and Seth Allen finished with 11 points each, while Nick Faust and Pe'Shon Howard chipped in with 10 apiece.
Duke comes into the postseason as the ACC's top offensive squad at 78.4 ppg. No player in the conference has made as much improvement than senior forward Mason Plumlee. An anchor in the frontcourt, Plumlee finished second in the ACC in scoring (17.2 ppg), rebounding (10.3 rpg) and field-goal percentage (.589), en route to All-ACC First-Team honors. He gets plenty of help from sharpshooters Seth Curry (third in the ACC at 17.1 ppg) and Ryan Kelly (15.5 ppg). Quinn Cook (12.5 ppg) and Rasheed Sulaimon (11.4 ppg) add to the scoring depth for the explosive Blue Devils.