What's at stake: Maryland was among the last teams to have its place in the tournament field announced Monday night. Now the Terps could be one of the first to punch their ticket to the second round. Maryland hasn’t lost in the first round since 2001, but it also hasn’t started its NCAA tournament run outside College Park since 2007. If the Terps can get past Ivy League champion Princeton, they would would advance to face No. 4 North Carolina State or No. 13 Elon on Sunday, with that round-of-32 winner moving on to the Sweet 16 and a likely matchup against top seed Mississippi State. Despite former President Barack Obama’s upset pick — niece Leslie Robinson is the Tigers’ second-leading scorer — Maryland will be favored to end Princeton’s season for the second time in four years.
Key matchup: Maryland’s Stephanie Jones (Aberdeen) against Princeton’s Bella Alarie. A battle between two Maryland natives — Jones is from Havre de Grace, Alarie from Bethesda — is also a matchup of atypical sophomore post presences. One year after older sister Brionna dominated the paint as a senior star for the Terps, Stephanie Jones has done most of her damage in transition and on slip screens. The only true forward in Maryland’s starting lineup, Jones also has had to defend opponents’ tallest, strongest players. Against the Tigers, that likely will be the 6-foot-4 Alarie, the Ivy League Player of the Year. She leads the team in scoring (13.4 points per game) and rebounding (9.0) but also is averaging over two assists and two 3-point attempts per game.
Player to watch: Princeton guard Qalea Ismail (Patterson Mill), the daughter of former Ravens wide receiver Qadry Ismail, missed all of her sophomore year and nearly the first three months of her junior season with a knee injury. But the two-time All-Metro first-team pick has started in 12 of her 13 appearances since returning for the Tigers, averaging 4.3 points in 11.9 minutes per game.
University of Maryland women's basketball team get the fifth seed in the NCAA tournament and will play against Princeton in North Carolina. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)