- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2005

The Maryland women’s basketball team is looking forward to mixing home cooking with its March Madness.

The Terrapins (21-9), who made the NCAA tournament for the second straight season, earned the No. 7 seed in the Philadelphia regional and will meet 10th-seeded Wisconsin-Green Bay in the first round Sunday at Comcast Center. If they advance, the Terps will play second-seeded Ohio State or 15th-seeded Holy Cross on March 22 in the second round at Comcast Center.

“I feel like we always play better at home,” sophomore guard Kalika France said. “The last few weeks, we’ve had to go on the road and shot pretty tough. I find that the ball drops a little easier when you’re home. Plus, there’s a comfort zone. It’s like anything. You always tend to go back home.”

Maryland will make back-to-back NCAA appearances for the first time since reaching six consecutive tournaments from 1988 to 1993.

“This shows you where this program is going,” coach Brenda Frese said.

Meanwhile, Atlantic 10 runner-up George Washington (22-8) earned a No. 9 seed in the Tempe regional and will make its 12th NCAA appearance in 15 years when it faces eighth-seeded Mississippi (19-10) on Sunday in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Virginia returned to the tournament after a one-year absence. The Cavaliers (20-10), the sixth seed in the Tempe regional, will play 11th-seeded Old Dominion in Minneapolis on Saturday.

Virginia Tech (17-11) earned a No. 12 seed — the lowest for an at-large selection — and is paired with fifth-seeded DePaul in the Chattanooga regional. The two teams will meet Sunday at Comcast Center.

Nationally, Louisiana State is the tournament’s overall top seed. Tennessee, Michigan State and North Carolina also earned No.1 seeds.

There were a few interesting twists at the national level. Stanford, the top-ranked team in the country in both major polls, received a No.2 seed in the Kansas City regional.

That quadrant of the bracket could be the most competitive, with Big Ten champ Michigan State, Stanford, three-time defending national champ Connecticut and Big 12 runner-up Kansas State filling the top four slots.

Maryland’s NCAA trip came under far different circumstances than a season ago. Last March, the Terps were one of the final teams to get into the field after sitting squarely on the tournament bubble. However, they earned an at-large No.12 seed and surprised fifth-seeded Miami in the first round.

This year the Terps spent almost the entire season in the Top 25 before falling out after losing in the ACC semifinals to Duke. The team was certain it would reach the tournament and remain at home for the first two rounds.

Maryland had arguably its most impressive season in more than a decade, defeating North Carolina (a No. 1 seed), Virginia and N.C. State — all teams in the top 25 of the RPI — en route to posting an RPI of 16. The ACC received seven NCAA bids, and all of its entrants possessed top-30 RPIs.

Despite those strengths, the Terps tumbled to a No. 7 seed — a fate that struck some as a bit puzzling.

“It’s disappointing because we wanted to be higher, but I’m glad we got in,” France said. “The NCAA committee is going to do what they do, and somehow they come up with us as a seven, and last year we were a 12, and I think we’re definitely better than a seven. We just have to go out there and prove it.”

Of greater concern is Maryland’s first-round opponent. Wisconsin-Green Bay (27-3), which won the Horizon League title, is in the tournament for the fourth straight year and the sixth time in nine years.

Though not a household name, the Phoenix are an impressive team. Wisconsin-Green Bay has won 21 of its last 22 games and has an impressive RPI of 37 despite playing in a mid-level league.

Meanwhile, George Washington was rewarded for a strong regular season during which it defeated at-large selection Richmond three times and N.C. State once.

The Colonials, who lost at home to Temple in the Atlantic 10 title game, won nine of their last 10 to bump their RPI to 39. GW was one of three A-10 teams in the tournament.

The Colonials, who are 9-2 in NCAA first-round games under coach Joe McKeown, would play top-seeded North Carolina or 16th-seeded Coppin State on March 22 if they advance to the second round.

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