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College Basketball

March Madness primer: Here’s where Baltimore-area college basketball teams stand as conference tournaments begin

With brackets for the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments set to be unveiled in less than two weeks, an array of Baltimore-area teams will go into their conference playoffs with realistic chances to crash the dance. Ranging from familiar powerhouses such as coach Brenda Frese’s Maryland women to upstarts such as coach Pat Skerry’s Towson men, here’s a survey of every program’s postseason outlook:

Maryland men

Record: 14-15 (6-12 Big Ten)

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Next game: Wednesday vs. Minnesota; Big Ten tournament starts next Wednesday

Skinny: The Terps gave themselves a chance to finish the regular season above .500 with an upset of No. 22 Ohio State on Sunday, but they would still need a miracle run in the Big Ten tournament to make the NCAA tournament for interim coach Danny Manning. Maryland ranks 11th in the conference in scoring and 12th in defense. Graduate guard Fatts Russell leads the team in scoring (14.9 points per game) and has cleared 20 points in five of his past six games. Fellow guard Eric Ayala ranks right behind Russell at 14.4 points per game and scored 23 against Ohio State.

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Maryland women

Record: 21-7 (13-4), No. 4 seed in Big Ten tournament

Next game: Friday in Big Ten quarterfinal

Skinny: Frese’s team won nine of its past 10 games after falling to 12-6 with a loss to Ohio State in January. Injuries and a ferocious nonconference schedule contributed to Maryland’s early struggles, but the Terps are projected to be a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament as they prepare to seek a sixth Big Ten tournament title. Sophomore Angel Reese (St. Frances) leads the team in scoring (17.6 points per game), rebounds and blocks. She made first-team All-Big Ten, while teammates Chloe Bibby, Ashley Owusu, Diamond Miller and Katie Benzan made the second team.

Towson men

Record: 24-7 (15-3), No. 1 seed in Colonial Athletic Association tournament

Next game: Sunday vs. winner of Northeastern-William & Mary in CAA quarterfinal

Skinny: Towson is the area’s best bet to make the NCAA men’s tournament after the Tigers clinched their first CAA regular-season title under coach Pat Skerry. They’ve won their past six games, five of those by at least 15 points. Guard Nicolas Timberlake is the leading scorer, but Towson killed opponents with balance; all six players who started at least 15 games averaged at least 8.1 points. The Tigers held opponents to 63.8 points per game, easily leading the conference. They did lose at Northeastern, one of their potential foes in the CAA tournament opener, in early February.

Towson women

Record: 22-5 (13-3 CAA)

Next game: Thursday vs. Delaware; CAA tournament begins March 10

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Skinny: Coach Diane Richardson’s team is one of the big three, along with Drexel and Delaware, at the top of the CAA. The Tigers are 0-2 against their top two rivals but will have chances to turn the tables on both in the last week of the regular season. Guard Aleah Nelson (17 points per game) and forward Allie Kubek (15.3 points per game) are Towson’s most potent scorers. The Tigers will try for the second NCAA run in program history, three years after Richardson guided them to the tournament in her second season at Towson.

Navy men

Record: 19-10 (12-6), No. 2 seed in Patriot League tournament

Next game: Thursday vs. American in Patriot League quarterfinal

Skinny: The Midshipmen are the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League tournament behind Colgate, which beat them in their regular-season finale. They will try to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time under Patriot League Coach of the Year Ed DeChellis, who guided them to the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League last season before being upset by Loyola Maryland. Navy was a defensive terror all season, holding opponents to 58.8 points per game, best in the conference by almost seven points per game. Seniors Richard Njoku and Greg Summers both made the Patriot League’s All-Defensive team, while leading scorer John Carter Jr. made second-team all-league.

Navy women

Record: 8-19 (5-12), No. 8 seed in Patriot League tournament

Next game: Saturday vs. Colgate in Patriot League opening round

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Skinny: Navy earned the eighth seed in the Patriot League tournament under coach Tim Thomas and will open against a Colgate team it beat last weekend. Senior guard Jennifer Coleman has put on a show all season, leading the Patriot League in scoring (22 points per game) and steals while ranking second in rebounds and assists.

Morgan State men

Record: 11-13 (6-6 MEAC)

Next game: Thursday at Coppin State; Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament begins next Wednesday

Skinny: The Bears saw the middle of their season interrupted by a series of coronavirus-related cancellations and postponements but have rallied to win their last three games under coach Kevin Broadus, a former assistant to Mark Turgeon at Maryland. Morgan is fifth in the MEAC headed into its regular-season finale against Coppin State. The Bears rank second in the conference in scoring, featuring a balanced attack led by guards Malik Miller (12.4 points per game) and De’Torrion Ware (11.2 points per game).

UMBC women's basketball coach Johnetta Hayes instructs her team during a timeout in a game against Loyola Maryland on Nov. 17.

Morgan State women

Record: 16-7 (10-3 MEAC)

Next game: Thursday at Coppin State; MEAC tournament begins next Wednesday

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Skinny: The Bears rank second in the MEAC in scoring and fewest points allowed under coach Ed Davis Jr. They would clinch a top-three seed in the conference tournament with a win over Coppin State, which beat them in January. It’s difficult to single out a star on Morgan State’s roster; five players average between 9 and 10.2 points per game and four average between 4.6 and 5.2 rebounds.

UMBC men

Record: 16-13 (11-7), No. 2 seed in America East Conference tournament

Next Game: Sunday in AEC quarterfinal

Skinny: Four years after their unforgettable March Madness upset of Virginia, the Retrievers remain a formidable opponent in the America East. They rank second in the league in scoring under first-year coach Jim Ferry and clinched the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament behind a dominant Vermont team. Senior guard Keondre Kennedy leads UMBC in scoring (15.2 points per game) while ranking second in rebounds and assists.

UMBC women

Record: 3-22 (2-13 AEC)

Next game: Wednesday at Binghamton

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Skinny: The Retrievers failed to qualify for the America East playoffs, finishing last in the conference under third-year coach Johnetta Hayes.

Loyola Maryland men

Record: 14-15 (8-10), No. 6 seed in Patriot League tournament

Next game: Thursday at Boston University in Patriot League quarterfinal

Skinny: The Greyhounds struggled to the finish line, losing six of their final seven regular-season games, several of those by excruciatingly close margins. Loyola will try to rebound as the No. 6 seed in the Patriot League tournament under fourth-year coach Tavaras Hardy. The Greyhounds beat Boston University, their quarterfinal opponent, in a January road game. Junior guard Cam Spencer (Boys’ Latin) made first-team all-league, leading Loyola in scoring (18.6 points per game) and ranking second in rebounds and assists.

Loyola Maryland women

Record: 5-22 (2-15), No. 10 seed in Patriot League tournament

Next game: Saturday at Lafayette in Patriot League opening round

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Skinny: Coach Danielle O’Banion’s Greyhounds will go into the Patriot League tournament as the No. 10 seed. Freshman forward Lex Therien is Loyola’s leading scorer (12.6 points per game) and rebounder.

Coppin State men

Record: 7-21 (6-7 MEAC)

Next game: Thursday vs. Morgan State; MEAC tournament begins next Wednesday

Coppin State men's basketball coach Juan Dixon, center, gives a pep talk to players during a timeout against Norfolk State on Feb. 19.

Skinny: After a punishing nonconference slate, coach Juan Dixon’s Eagles have a chance to finish .500 in the MEAC with a regular-season-closing victory over Morgan State. Coppin has played without star forward Tyree Corbett in recent weeks, leaving junior guard Mike Hood and senior forward Sita Conteh to take on increased offensive loads.

Coppin State women

Record: 15-11 (9-4 MEAC)

Next game: Thursday vs. Morgan State; MEAC tournament begins next Wednesday

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Skinny: Coppin State could tie Morgan State (and Norfolk State) for second in the MEAC with a victory over its crosstown rival in the regular-season finale for both teams. Former Maryland star Laura Harper coached the Eagles to a six-game winning streak in January and February, and her team, led by guards Jaia Alexander (Roland Park) and Aliyah Lawson, has played well against the other programs vying for top seeds in the MEAC tournament.

Mount St. Mary’s men

Record: 13-15 (9-9), No. 4 seed Northeast Conference tournament

Next game: Wednesday vs. St. Francis Brooklyn in NEC quarterfinal

Skinny: The Mountaineers lived through an up-and-down close to their regular season as they finished with a victory over Central Connecticut after losing five of their previous six games. They earned a No. 4 seed in the NEC tournament under coach Dan Engelstad. The Mountaineers split their season series with St. Francis Brooklyn, their quarterfinal opponent. Junior guard Jalen Benjamin (13.2 points per game) leads the team in scoring.

Mount St. Mary’s women

Record: 12-12 (10-7 NEC)

Next game: Thursday at Saint Francis (Pa.); NEC tournament quarterfinal on Monday

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Skinny: The Mountaineers head into their regular-season finale in third place in the NEC under first-year coach Antoine White. But they have not beaten the teams ahead of them in the standings, Fairleigh Dickinson and St. Francis Brooklyn. Senior guard Kendall Bresee leads the team in points, rebounds, assists and blocks.


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