But it was apparent during a news conference Wednesday with Arizona Coach Lute Olson and a couple of his players that the significance of the game extends beyond their campus as part of an emerging rivalry.
Pac-10 vs. ACC.
Humbling for the Pacific 10 Conference, the rivalry appears to be emerging only on the West Coast. It has yet to be recognized by the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Why should it be?
One of the Pac-10's finest, UCLA, played North Carolina and Duke this season and lost by 41 and 36 points, respectively. But based on the amount of time Olson devoted to the topic Wednesday, it was clear he sees his team's game against Maryland as an opportunity to advance the Pac-10's cause.
That shouldn't be necessary.
When Pac-10 officials complained a few years ago about the lack of respect the conference receives from the committee that selects and seeds teams, Olson said he told them they could change that only by winning games in the tournament.
They've done that. The Pac-10 has produced two of the last three national champions and is the only conference to send four teams to the Sweet 16 in each of the last two seasons.
Still, Olson, pointed out that Washington, with an 11-7 conference record, was considered a bubble team before its season-ending victory at Washington State, while two ACC teams with losing conference records, Clemson and Florida State, were invited.
"I think Washington has proved they belong," Olson said.
Last season, Olson said, he heard discussion that his Wildcats, despite an 17-1 conference record, wouldn't be invited because of losses at Stanford and California. Both proved Sweet 16 teams, and Arizona won the tournament.
One problem for the Pac-10, Olson said, is its location, with night games in the West starting too late for all but East Coast insomniacs to watch on television.
He also criticized some Pac-10 teams, particularly UCLA and Stanford, for interrupting their conference schedules late in the season and traveling to the East, where they were embarrassed.
But Olson said it's also impossible to ignore the existence of an East Coast bias.
He hears it almost every time he turns on the television, he said, from "some of the more vocal national announcers."
As soon as I find out who he was talking about, I'll pass it on, ba-beee!
If Maryland beats Arizona, advancing beyond the Sweet 16 for the first time in Coach Gary Williams' nine seasons in College Park, what will it mean to him? . . .
"Renegotiation," he said. . . .
Utah Coach Rick Majerus is routinely mentioned whenever it appears another job will come open, most recently at Arizona State. . . .
West Virginia Coach Gale Catlett added a new one Wednesday. . . .
"I hear he's going to take over 'The Tonight Show,' " Catlett said. . . .
Majerus doesn't have the same chin as Jay Leno, but he has more of them. . . .
When he showed up at the Pond with a Band-Aid on the more prominent of them, he was reluctant to admit he cut himself shaving. . . .
"I would like to say I did it body surfing or slam dancing," he said. . . .
Utah center Michael Doleac said Majerus isn't funny during practices. . . .
UCLA has already lost to Kentucky once this season. . . .
Dominguez's Tayshaun Prince spurned Steve Lavin's advances and signed with the Wildcats. . . .
Prince, who sat out the second half of a playoff loss to Compton because of an injury, probably won't play in the Nike all-star high school game during the Final Four weekend in San Antonio. . . .
That would give the game only one Californian, Ray Young of Alameda St. Joseph. . . .
Young, who signed with UCLA, and Westchester's David Bluthenthal, who signed with USC, will meet for the first time when they play in the Division I state championship game Saturday in Sacramento. . . .
It didn't take David Greenwood long to establish his coaching credentials, taking alma mater Verbum Dei to the Division IV championship game Friday in Sacramento. . . .
Larry Farmer got so much air time last Sunday, you'd think he was hosting a telethon. . . .
He was on Rhode Island's bench as Jim Harrick's assistant coach during an upset of Kansas. . . .
Then Farmer appeared in a 1979 episode of "White Shadow" on Nick at Nite's "TV Land."
While wondering what it will be like to see good basketball games in the Pond, I was thinking: The Lakers should give Jarrod West a shot next season, I like Arizona and Utah in a true West final, don't be surprised if the Pac-10 and ACC each have two Final Four teams.