COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- For the second straight season,
Maryland will start the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed.
The Terrapins hope a comparable start will lead to an identical
The defending champions will begin play Sunday in Hartford,
Conn., against Harvard (15-12) in the stacked Dayton Regional,
which has Tennessee as the top seed, Oklahoma No. 3 and Ohio State
Maryland (27-5) is coming off a loss to North Carolina in the
Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, which is precisely what
happened last year before the Terrapins peeled off six straight
wins to win the school's first national championship.
Can it happen again? The Terrapins are counting on it.
"Twice would be nice," coach Brenda Frese said. "We
understand how difficult it is, but I'm confident and I believe in
All five starters from last season's team are back for another
run. Guard Kristi Toliver knows Maryland's success last March won't
necessarily equate to another championship, but she believes the
Terrapins will benefit from the experience.
"Last year is last year. That's kind of how we're approaching
it," she said. "But this year we're coming in with way more
confidence than we had last year. And we've got the talent to do it
The Terrapins are in arguably the toughest region of the four.
"I think they're all tough. It doesn't matter what your number
is or your seeding, you've got to come out and play," Frese said.
The first two games, however, are stacked heavily in Maryland's
favor. Assuming the Terrapins dispose of No. 15 seed Harvard,
Maryland will next face the winner of the TCU-Mississippi game.
In November, Maryland beat TCU by 18 and routed Mississippi
"There's a comfort level there," Frese said.
Maryland spent much of the first part of the season ranked No.
1. The Terrapins won 18 straight before losing to Duke in January,
then won three in a row before falling to North Carolina and
Then came a loss to Duke on Feb. 18, and finally a second defeat
against North Carolina in the ACC tournament. The five losses are
one more than the Terrapins had last season, but none of that will
matter on Sunday against Harvard.
"I think we got too comfortable in the second half. I think
you're going to see a different team," Toliver said.
And why not? A year ago, Maryland lost twice to Duke and once to
North Carolina before beating both in the Final Four.
"This season is kind of looking like last year," senior guard
Shay Doron said. "We went through a lull last year, won some games
on a couple of lucky shots. This season is kind of looking the
same; our bracket is tough but I think we have a good chance of
Baylor won the tournament as a No. 2 seed in 2005 and Maryland
did it last year. The Terrapins hope to keep that streak going in
"Honestly, we're happy where we're at," Doron said. "Two
seeds won it the last two years, so we're looking to continue that
Actually, the Terps are looking to make it four in a row.
Connecticut won as a No. 2 seed in 2004.