There was always going to be a brunch rush Saturday at Miller's Ale House. The Maryland women's basketball team is in the Sweet 16, and the Rockville restaurant and sports bar is the pick of the Rebounders, the program's official support group, for the Terps' late-morning game against Oregon.
Racheal Abraham will be there, eyes on the big screen, belief in her bones. The Upper Marlboro resident has faith that this weekend will not be the last of Maryland's season. "In my heart of hearts, I don't see Maryland not making it to the Final Four," she said, and yes, she knows that requires a win over four-time defending champion and top-seeded Connecticut.
What Abraham does not have this weekend is a ticket. The NCAA allotted Maryland 100 for the Bridgeport, Conn., regional, same as it did for the Huskies, Ducks and UCLA. But those tickets are reserved primarily for those close to the program.
UConn had the upper hand, because, well, it's UConn. Their record winning streak undisturbed, Huskies fans knew well before the NCAA tournament bracket was unveiled last week that the team would be staying in the state this weekend. So they snatched up tickets early and often. The Terps hadn't even tipped off in their tournament opener before tickets to Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena (capacity: nearly 9,000) were sold out.
"Either you buy the overly inflated tickets," Abraham said, "or you end up in Rockville hanging out with the rest of the Rebounders."
The NCAA's initial inventory of tickets, Abraham said, were reasonably priced: $62.50. The cheapest single ticket available on Stubhub, as of early Wednesday morning, was $99.75, a markup of nearly 70 percent.
Said Abraham, a fan of the team since Frese's arrival who was in Boston for the 2006 national title: "That's just ridiculous."
Don't get her started. Given that UConn was able to secure an additional 500 tickets for the regional ... and that Maryland could not earn a No. 2 seed ... and that the officiating in the teams' first matchup, a Huskies win in College Park, was, in her judgment, one-sided ... well, something doesn't smell right to Abraham and her fellow Rebounders.
Which, in a way, might be to the Terps' advantage.
"The fact that their fan base can't be there, that's going to make them even more determined," she said. She just wishes she were there to witness it.