The Washington Times - November 2, 2008, 12:32PM

Missed this in a flurry of other things yesterday, but it is interesting.

Maryland is ranked No. 3 in the country in the preseason women’s basketball AP poll.

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Far be it for me to question the wisdom of voters who watch a lot more women’s basketball than I do, but at the least that’s a great amount of faith being placed in a team that lost its starting frontcourt.

Not that the Terrapins won’t be good – as in top-10 good. Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver are back, and a patented Brenda Frese Monster Recruiting Class® has arrived as well. The wins will come – and frequently.

The nice thing about women’s hoops is how often the best teams play each other. So while Maryland will face ACC foes North Carolina (No. 6), Duke (No. 8), Virginia (No. 15) and Florida State (No. 21), the Terps will also meet No. 5 Rutgers, No. 23 Purdue and No. 25 Old Dominion. That’s nine games against preseason top-25 teams (Maryland plays both Duke and Virginia twice), plus the ACC tournament.

So if Maryland is to be considered a Final Four favorite – and there’s no reason to think contending for such a spot is out of the question – it will certainly have several chances to demonstrate its worthiness for accolades well before the NCAA tournament field is even selected.

Patrick Stevens