In what is a highly predictable development, Maryland coach Gary Williams has zeroed in on a scheduling issue Maryland faces at the start of conference play.
First off, he's irked the Terps don't play a league game until Jan. 10. Second, he's clearly not thrilled Maryland will go from a Sunday evening home game to a Tuesday night road game once conference play starts.
"Unfortunately we have a bye until Sunday," Williams said on this morning's ACC teleconference. "We're looking forward to the game. We have a quick turnaround then. It's a tough way to start. I'd like to be playing before [Sunday].
Let's address both of these issues.
First, the Terps opened league play on Jan. 10 last year. Selection Sunday is a day earlier this year (March 14 vs. March 15). So it is slightly later, but not prohibitive. So, yes, it is late. But the alternative was playing a Sunday night game in the last month (such as Boston College-Miami, Florida State-Georgia Tech, Wake Forest-N.C. State and Duke-Clemson). Yep, North Carolina and Virginia Tech will actually start ACC play after Maryland does (with their own Sunday night showdown).
Onto Part II.
The two-in-three deal has long been a bone of contention with Williams. Remember in 2005 when the Terps played Georgia Tech at home on a Sunday and then had to go to Clemson two days later? Williams wasn't happy with that situation, and the results --- a defeat of the Jarrett Jack-led Yellow Jackets followed by a loss at Littlejohn --- made it almost seem like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But that hardly matters for this moment. No, the way to figure out how much of a beef Williams might have in this case is to go to the schedule and figure out how many ACC teams have two-in-three situations in league play this year.
The rundown (with game time in parentheses):
* Maryland: Jan. 10 vs. Florida State (5:30), Jan. 12 at Wake Forest (8)
* Florida State: Jan. 10 at Maryland (5:30), Jan. 12 vs. N.C. State (7)
* Miami: Jan. 31 vs. Virginia Tech (1), Feb. 2 at Wake Forest (7)
* Florida State: Feb. 4 vs. Maryland (9), Feb. 6 vs. Miami (8)
* Duke: Feb. 4 vs. Georgia Tech (7), Feb. 6 at Boston College (2)
* Georgia Tech: Feb. 4 at Duke (7), Feb. 6 vs. N.C. State (4)
* Virginia Tech: Feb. 4 vs. North Carolina (9), Feb. 6 vs. Clemson (4)
* Clemson: Feb. 28 at Florida State (5:30), March 2 vs. Georgia Tech (8)
* None: Boston College, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia and Wake Forest
It's safe to say the toughest situation is playing the road game on the back end of a two-in-three. You play one night, practice and travel the next, then play the next after a day in a hotel.
Only three teams in the ACC have to do that: Duke, Maryland and Miami. And amazingly, Wake Forest gets the latter two at home on the back end of their two-in-threes.
Florida State is pinched as well, because it has to deal with this twice. But at least for the Seminoles, they get three of their four games in those situations in Tallahassee.
Back to Maryland. A two-in-three is a pain, no question, and those situations aren't evenly distributed throughout the league. That can validate some of his complaints. But he should also be happy it's happening during semester break when class issues aren't as much of a problem. He's also not in a cult of one, so he's not an exclusively aggrieved party here.
Scheduling fairly is a tough task, one I don't envy the ACC office for trying to do. Maybe this is something that can be done better (there probably don't need to be three games on Thursday, Feb. 4.), but it could probably be done worse as well.