- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Associated Press, ESPN and bracketologists agree: Maryland is the fifth best women’s basketball team in the country behind Baylor, Stanford, Connecticut and Notre Dame.

The only question is if the selection committee also will agree and award Maryland the top No. 2 seed in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament when the brackets are unveiled Monday at 7 p.m.

“They’re locked in as a two,” ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme said. “Look at the four teams that are labeled No. 1, and there’s not a single one of those four that Maryland’s profile is better than. Honestly, it’s as simple as that.”

It doesn’t take a degree in bracketology to predict that Baylor and Stanford will take the first two seeds with just one loss combined. Maryland bolstered its resume by winning the ACC tournament last weekend, but the Terps’ six wins against ranked opponents aren’t enough to push the team in front of the powerful Big East tandem of Connecticut (11 wins against ranked teams) and Notre Dame (10) for the remaining No. 1 seed.

As the top No. 2 seed, Maryland (28-4, 12-4 ACC) could go into the Raleigh region with Notre Dame because the selection committee places teams in regions closest to the schools, according to Creme.

Maryland knows for certain it will be hosting its first two rounds at Comcast Center on March 17 and 19. But predicting the opponents in those games becomes much less clear.

Creme has hypothesized that the Terps will host Albany in the first round, but coach Brenda Frese knows from experience not to read too much into the projections.

“I’ll take a peek here or there, but I know like every year that I’ve looked at it it’s never been accurate,” Frese said Friday. “Nine times out of 10, they’re nowhere close to what they put in those brackets. I think you can predict one and two seeds, but I think after that, you can’t really predict what locations and who’s going to be in your bracket.”

Creme also has ACC rival Georgia Tech in Maryland’s bracket. It would be a matchup the Terps certainly will want to watch out for, after narrowly defeating the Yellow Jackets in the ACC championship game.

“Whoever is in our bracket, I know our girls are going to be excited to play,” senior center Lynetta Kizer said. “We’re just going out and finishing this thing strong. It’s six games, that’s it.”

The Terps enter the tournament winners of 10 of their past 11, including the ACC championship game. However, second-team All-ACC forward Tianna Hawkins said the Terps still “have something to prove.”

“We can’t be satisfied,” Hawkins said. “We did well winning the ACC tournament, but our main goal is to win the national championship.”

Kizer echoed Hawkins’ sentiments, saying that this is the time to step up.

“Tournament time everyone brings their A-game. The records go zero-zero,” Kizer said. “Our motto is just, ‘fight to finish and take care of business.’ “