Charlotte, N.C. — Maryland coach Gary Williams has gotten used to losing in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
The second-ranked Terrapins last captured the ACC tourney 18 years ago and were riding a 13-game winning streak before Saturday's 86-82 loss to North Carolina State in the semifinals.
"I remember this feeling," Williams said. "It's funny, it didn't take long to remember it."
Anthony Grundy scored 24 points, and Julius Hodge sank a three-pointer with 1:17 left for the Wolfpack. N.C. State, which snapped a six-game skid against Maryland, shot 65 percent in the second half and made 11 three-pointers.
The Wolfpack will play three-time defending champion Duke in today's championship game.
The Blue Devils beat Wake Forest 79-64.
Regular-season ACC champion Maryland (26-4) was in its eighth straight conference semifinal, but it has advanced to the title game just once in that span under Williams.
N.C. State (22-9) used a unique game plan to reach the final for the first time since 1997. The fourth-seeded Wolfpack won by pressuring Maryland guard Steve Blake with a fullcourt trapping press. When the Terrapins pounded the ball down low to Lonny Baxter or Chris Wilcox, N.C. State surrounded them with as many as four players at a time.
"We changed defenses a lot, and our big guys stepped up," Grundy said. "We just got great help. This was no individual effort, it was more of a team effort. It takes team defense for us to win."
It also helped that Maryland standout Juan Dixon had an off-game, going 6-of-16 for 13 points.
The Terrapins are still expected to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
"Maybe this is good for us," Dixon said. "This brings us down off that high. We were very confident in our ability to win this tournament. Maybe now guys can commit a little bit more to this team the next three weeks."
Grundy was coming off a career-high 32-point effort in a 20-point quarterfinal win over Virginia and he was just as spectacular in this one. The senior guard was 9-of-12 from the field with eight rebounds.
Marcus Melvin added 19 points, Archie Miller 16.
Blake led Maryland with 21 points and 11 assists.
Poor free-throw shooting by N.C. State kept Maryland in it. The Terrapins had a chance to tie twice in the final 30 seconds, but Dixon threw the ball away once and his 28-footer with 3.2 seconds left wasn't close.