Maryland women’s hoops seeded No. 2 seed in NCAAs, draws same region with South Carolina

By Brandon Alter
Special to The Sports Pulse

The Maryland women’s basketball team gathered at Xfinity Center on Selection Sunday, awaiting their fate.

While a No. 2 seed seemed likely, questions remained on who would be the top seed in their region and if they were traveling west to Seattle or staying on the East Coast.

It didn’t take long for the Terrapins to learn their fate, but it was not good. The Terps were drawn into the same region as top-overall South Carolina in the Greenville region.

“I think the [selection] committee always has tough decisions to make,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said when asked if she thought her team had done enough to avoid the unbeaten Gamecocks.

“I don’t want to speak for what they’re looking at; I think there were so many great teams this year that when they were looking at it for us — we’re taking it one game at a time. For us to face South Carolina means we’re advancing to an Elite Eight.”

As a No.2 seed, the Terps will host the first two rounds of the tournament. They face Holy Cross on Friday at 2:30 p.m.. The other teams coming to College Park are No. 7 seed Arizona and No. 10 West Virginia.

For Maryland’s senior players, hosting tournament games is something they plan not to take for granted.

“It’s definitely really exciting that we’ll be able to have our first two games here,” Faith Masonius said. “Senior night, we thought we were going to be done playing in here. We never knew what to expect because you’re not guaranteed those games.”

Also on their side of the bracket is No. 3 seed Notre Dame, which sets up a potential rematch in the Sweet 16. Maryland beat the Fighting Irish in South Bend earlier this season 74-72.

This season, Maryland has faced double-digit tournament teams, including playing Iowa three times, Illinois and Ohio State twice, and the aforementioned South Carolina.

Frese believes the demanding schedule has helped prepare the team for a deep run.

Nov. 11, 2022: Maryland women’s basketball fell to the top-ranked South Carolina women 81-56 in a NCAA women’s basketball game at Xfinity Center in College Park. (Michael R. Smith/The Sports Pulse)

“The non-conference schedule was prepared for some vets that weren’t really here,” Frese said. “But this team embraced it, and that helped them prepare for one of the toughest, strongest conference races we’ve ever been a part of this year. We’re hoping the second toughest schedule in the country now prepares you for March.”

With a heavy influx of transfers and just one returning starter, being a No. 2 Seed in the tournament was not foreseen in the offseason. Masonius said that if you had told her in the offseason that Maryland would be a No. 2 seed, she “wouldn’t have believed you.”

“With so many new girls coming in, at that point, you never know what it’s going to be like,” she continued. “We might have great basketball players individually, but how’s it going to be playing together as a team.”

While rematches with South Carolina and Notre Dame may await, Maryland knows they can’t look more than one game ahead.

“We’re still going to focus on one game at a time,” Abby Meyers said. “It’s exciting that we have the potential to play them again.”

Feature photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse

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