The Maryland women’s basketball team claimed a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament Kansas City Region and will play No. 12-seed Princeton in the first round on Friday afternoon in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Terps (25-7) hosted a Selection Monday watch party at Xfinity Center as the committee released the bracket for the tournament, and, despite learning they wouldn’t host the first weekend, coach Brenda Frese and Terps players stood up and cheered when Maryland was called.
Maryland has hosted the first weekend of the tournament every year since the team didn’t make the tournament in 2010, but it will be on the road this year.
“I don’t think anything is going to change,” guard Kristen Confroy said. “The tournament atmosphere anywhere you go is so exciting. … When you go on the road, it really forces your team to come together, and that’s when we’re at our best.”
On Tuesday, ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme said Maryland blew its chance at a top-four seed when it lost the Big Ten tournament championship game to Ohio State on March 4.
That, coupled with a three-game losing streak amid the team’s final four contests of the season, contributed to Maryland dropping from a potential host to a team on the road.
Maryland’s season took a slight downward turn when guard Blair Watson tore her ACL in January. With her absence, along with the loss of last season’s three leading scorers, the Terps believe they overcame plenty of issues just to get where they are.
Watson said she’s watched her team go through “one thing after another” and commended the Terps’ fighting spirit. Frese and the players’ reaction to their placement in the tournament displayed their pride in that.
“All that adversity we faced has only made us grow closer together,” guard Sarah Myers said, “and it really makes us appreciate every single win and all the accomplishments we’ve had.”
North Carolina State (24-8) took the No. 4 seed, so it is hosting the regional. Guard Channise Lewis said the Terps are excited, regardless of their opponent.
Prior to the selection, Frese showcased her confidence in the Terps, wherever they were going to play in their eight consecutive NCAA tournament.
“We’d love to be at home,” Frese said to the fans in attendance. “But for us, whatever happens, last time I checked, you still have to come out and beat Maryland.”