Maryland women seem locked into No. 2 seed for NCAA tournament
By By Gene Wang
The Washington Post|
Mar 14, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Several days after winning its second straight Big Ten Conference tournament championship, the fifth-ranked Maryland women's basketball team attended a celebratory rally on campus at the student union. When it was her turn to address the crowd, coach Brenda Frese reminded supporters there remains much more to accomplish this season.
"We have one tournament left," she said to cheers and applause.
The journey to a third straight Final Four begins this week for the Terps, who appear on track for a No. 2 seed when the NCAA tournament's field of 64 is announced during Monday night's selection show. As is the case with the top four seeds in each region, Maryland would host first- and second-round games.
The Terps (30-3), who received a No. 1 seed last season and No. 4 in 2013-14, are 15-1 at home and have won eight in a row at Xfinity Center. They also have won eight straight NCAA tournament games in College Park; their last loss came in the round of 32 to conclude their 2010-11 season.
"We've sort of accepted the fact that we're going to be a two-seed, which is fine because anything can happen in the NCAA tournament," senior point guard Chloe Pavlech said. "It doesn't matter what your number is in the seeding. Now, does it help sometimes? Yes, but at the end of the day, we all have one goal, and it's to get back to that Final Four stage."
The Terps are among a handful of teams vying for a No. 2 seed behind schools that have occupied the top four spots in the Associated Press rankings for almost all season. Three-time defending national champion Connecticut (32-0) is all but ensured of being the top overall seed, with Notre Dame (31-1), South Carolina (31-1) and Baylor (33-1) in line for the other No. 1 seeds.
Oregon State (28-4) has a strong case to be the top No. 2 seed after its run to the Pac-12 Conference tournament title. The Beavers are fifth in the Rating Percentage Index, which the NCAA tournament selection committee uses to help determine seeding. The Terps are No. 8 in RPI behind Texas (28-4), which lost to Baylor three times, including the Big 12 Conference championship game, and Ohio State (24-7).
The Buckeyes swept Maryland in the regular season, becoming the only Big Ten school to beat the Terps since they joined the conference in 2014-15, but lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. Maryland then pulled away from Michigan State in the second half of the championship game for a 60-44 victory.
"The seeding has never really mattered to us," Frese said. "I think our body of work speaks for itself. We're 30-3, no bad losses. I think the most important thing right now is finding out what your bracket is, and you want to be playing some of your best basketball, and we feel like we're there. The way we're practicing, the way we're playing, we're definitely excited for this next stretch."