A crowd of about 200 people gathered at Comcast Center in College Park, MD last night.
It was NCAA Tournament selection show time.
To no one's surprise, the Lady Terrapins were assured a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance.
They will lead the pack in the Raleigh Region.
Maryland players were seated in the front row of Heritage Hall.
Proud friends and family were directly behind these talented ladies, shouting congratulations for a job well done.
Maryland (28-4) also was a No. 1 seed in last year’s tournament.
The Terps are heading into familiar territory.
Their recent postseason success has been predicated by the outstanding play of two tremendous women.
Seniors Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman have dominated the field this year, and are both chomping at the bit to extend their careers all the way to their second NCAA Championship.
They were true freshmen in 2006 when Toliver made the biggest shot of her career so far, nailing a buzzer-beating three-point shot in overtime to knock out their rival, the Duke Blue Devils.
Maryland has earned the right to host the first two games of the tournament in College Park.
They open the first round against No. 16 Dartmouth (18-10).
Dartmouth won the Ivy League Championship in the South Region.
Maryland coach Brenda Frese feels the two games at home are a stepping stone to building momentum as they march onward to Raleigh.
“Best-case scenario, you’re playing at home, you can take care of business,” she said. “It’s one game at a time, but I just love the fact that if we’re able to take care of that, we’d be able to travel to a location where the best fans in the country can follow this team.”
Also, joining Maryland as top seeds in the NCAA Tournament are the undefeated Connecticut Huskies (33-0, East Region), Oklahoma (28-4, Midwest Region), and the Duke Blue Devils (26-5, West Region).
Perennial National Championship contender Tennessee (22-10) is the fifth seed in the West Region, their lowest seed in team history.
The Volunteers open action versus MAC Champion Ball State.
UConn earned the overall No. 1 seed.
This offensive juggernaut beat their opponents by an average margin of 31.5 points per game.
The Huskies are heavily favored to win the tournament.
ESPN analysts Trey Wingo and Kara Lawson both concurred that the women’s field is stocked with potential spoilers for the mighty Huskies.
But they still believe UConn will finish a fabulous season with their sixth NCAA Championship.
Maryland will meet the Huskies only if both teams make it into the final game.
The Terrapins finished right behind UConn for the second overall seed.
“UConn is not in my thoughts right now, right now it is Dartmouth,” Toliver said. “UConn could choke and lose to whomever in the second round. It’s all about who you have coming up, and for us right now it’s Dartmouth.”
The ACC will have six teams going to the Show.
North Carolina, Florida State, Virginia, and Georgia Tech join Maryland and Duke, with Boston College left out of this year’s tournament.
Duke has the most challenging path to the Final Four.
They could face No.9 seed Michigan State in a second-round game in East Lansing, MI.
If they get through to the West Region Finals game, they could play the Pacific-10 Champion Stanford Cardinal in Berkeley, CA.
That would be the equivalent of a home game for the Cardinal.
Duke’s last loss was to Maryland in the ACC Final.
The Terrapins are not as familiar with the Big Green but are ready to go for the grand prize.
“What time is it?”
“It’s game time.”
Five Maryland players are participating in their first postseason.
Junior college transfer Dee Liles, red-shirt freshmen Kim Rodgers, Anjale Barrett, Lynetta Kizer, and Yemi Oyefuwa round out the Terrapins' youthful roster.