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Losers Weepers
Jack McCallum
March 08, 1999
The year before the NCAA added at-large berths to the big Dance, North Carolina State and Maryland player an epic of a winner-take all final in the ACC tournament. For the Terps, the result was a crying shame
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March 08, 1999

Losers Weepers

The year before the NCAA added at-large berths to the big Dance, North Carolina State and Maryland player an epic of a winner-take all final in the ACC tournament. For the Terps, the result was a crying shame

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Several reporters at the tournament immediately labeled it the best game in ACC history. Some still think it is. In any case, it was the conference's last tournament game that was played with a there's-only-one-bid-and-we've-got-to-get-it fury. With the memory of Maryland's sad fate fresh in its mind, the NCAA tournament committee voted later that year to expand the field from 25 to 32 teams starting with the 1975 tournament. (Expansions to 40, 48 and 64 occurred in '79, '80 and '85, respectively.) From 1975 on, the ACC has sent at least two representatives to the NCAAs.

Sixteen days later, again in Greensboro, N.C. State won the NCAA title with a 76-64 victory over Marquette. That followed a pulsating 80-77 double-overtime defeat of the Walton-led UCLA in the semis, a game that Sloan insists wasn't as memorable as the Wolfpack's win over Maryland. "We wouldn't have been at the Final Four if we hadn't escaped that night," he says. "I tell you, it was a tragedy a team of Maryland's caliber wasn't able to participate."

After the loss to N.C. State, Maryland declined a bid to the NIT. "In a way, we all felt we had played kind of a championship game against N.C. State," says Elmore. "It just didn't get us anywhere."

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