North Carolina State earned another game with a former conference rival. The Wolfpack's Kiara Leslie gets a reunion with her old Maryland teammates.
When fourth-seeded N.C. State (25-8) faces the fifth-seeded Terrapins (26-7) today in the second round of the women's NCAA Tournament , there certainly won't be many secrets.
Yet Wolfpack coach Wes Moore tried to defuse the suggestion that Leslie might hold the key to stopping the Terps.
"Heck, she doesn't remember the stuff we're running," Moore quipped Saturday. "So how could she remember what she ran two years ago?"
The winner advances to a Kansas City Regional semifinal next week — where, if the seeds hold, No. 1 seed Mississippi State will await. N.C. State hasn't made the Sweet 16 since 2007 while Maryland is trying to make it that far for the sixth time in seven years.
Leslie was a part of one of the Terps' Sweet 16 run in 2015, and was a part-time starter during her two seasons with the Terrapins, averaging 4.0 points from 2014-16.
She sat out last season with an injury, graduated in three years and transferred to N.C. State — the biggest school closest to her hometown of Holly Springs, the school that big brother C.J. helped lead to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances earlier this decade.
Leslie called it "just another game," but intimated that she might have an advantage "because I know some of their tendencies, some of their plays."
That works both ways: The Terps know what she does well — and does poorly — too.
"Really, it's about us locking in and knowing that we do have that relationship with her," Maryland guard Kristen Confroy said, "but on Sunday, it's about business."
The schools certainly are no strangers, either. Maryland and N.C. State played 77 times over the years, but this is their first meeting since the Terps left the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Big Ten. And current N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow held the same position at Maryland from 1994-2010.
The teams' main similar strength comes on the glass. And both of them cruised to lopsided victories in the first round, with Maryland beating Princeton 77-57 before the Wolfpack pulled away from Elon 62-35 .
Both teams rank in the top 25 in Division I in rebounding margin, with N.C. State tied for seventh at plus-10 and the Terps 21st at plus-8.1 Maryland had an 18-rebound advantage in its rout of the Tigers while the Wolfpack had five players with five rebounds apiece in beating Elon.
The key difference: Maryland's offense ranks 18th in the nation, averaging more than 80 points. N.C. State's defense is 28th, allowing just 56.7 points per game. In the past two months, the Wolfpack have allowed only one team — top seed Notre Dame — to score 70 points.
Then again, Maryland already faced one elite defense in this tournament — Princeton allows only 55 points per game, and the Terps seemingly scored at will in that one — and coach Brenda Frese says that can only help as her team advances deeper into the bracket.
At the other end of the floor, Kaila Charles makes the Terps go. She has reached double figures in 30 of 33 games and scored 20 in the opening-round victory.