Maryland women’s basketball has officially been given a 4-seed in the Spokane region for the 2022 NCAA Tournament. The Terps will begin their tournament run in College Park against 13-seeded Delaware on Friday, March 18 at 5 p.m.
“I didn’t really have any expectations, I was just hoping that we would be hosting to be quite honest,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “That’s a big piece, being one of the best 16 teams in the country that we’ve worked so hard through all the adversity of injuries and illness this year. And for us to be able to be housing the tournament here for the first two rounds at Xfinity, I’m really, really thrilled.”
The adversity that Maryland has been well-documented throughout the season, but it will have a chance to remove all doubts with a stretch of wins here.
“We’ve had nagging injuries all year and being able to go through everything that we went through,” sophomore forward/guard Angel Reese said. “But being able to have a healthy team going into the tournament is going to be so important, and I think we’re really ready.”
The Terps head into the tournament with a 21-8 record, having finished 13-4 in Big Ten play to finish in a tie for third place in the conference. Had their game against last-place Illinois not been canceled, they would have likely won a share of the regular-season title.
In its first game of the Big Ten Tournament on March 5, Maryland lost to Indiana, 62-51. It was the first time that Maryland lost in a conference tournament opener since joining the Big Ten, having played in the championship game in each of its first seven seasons in the conference.
“Everyone’s high, everyone’s super motivated to do what they have to do for this team to be successful, and that’s the great thing about it,” graduate student forward/guard Chloe Bibby said. “It doesn’t matter what role you have, everyone just wants each other to succeed...because when we know when that happens that collectively we’ll be OK.”
Maryland had a remarkable six players earn Big Ten honors this season, highlighted by emerging superstar Angel Reese. Reese, who leads Maryland with 17.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, was named to the All-Big Ten First Team on March 1. She is also in the running for two major national awards. Reese is a finalist for the Katrina McClain Award, which recognizes the nation’s best power forward, and is on the national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award.
Outside of Reese, the Terps will likely go as far as their dynamic backcourt takes them. Junior guards Ashley Owusu (14 points per game) and Diamond Miller (12.1 points per game) are both All-Big Ten players in their own right and will have a chance to do major damage in March.
Graduate student guard Katie Benzan, one of the best three-point shooters in the nation at 43.5%, and Bibby wrap up Maryland’s likely starting five heading into the national postseason. The Terps are 15-3 in games where Bibby scores at least 10 points.
Rounding out Maryland’s seven-woman rotation is freshman guard Shyanne Sellers and redshirt junior forward Mimi Collins. Sellers impressed on the defensive end, leading Maryland with 1.8 steals per game and becoming a much-needed stopper against some of the nation's best players. Collins saw her scoring average drop by 2.5 points per game from last season, but she can still be an explosive option off the bench.
Health will be imperative for Maryland this postseason; its depth is already thin. Junior guard/forward Faith Masonius suffered a season-ending torn ACL against Indiana on Jan. 2, while sophomore guard Taisiya Kozlova has not done enough to consistently be in Frese’s rotation.
Maryland’s first-round opponent, Delaware, went 24-7 overall and 15-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Drexel won the conference’s regular-season title, but Delaware defeated the Dragons in Sunday’s conference tournament final, 63-59. Delaware has a dominant big in senior guard/forward Jasmine Dickey. Dickey, a Baltimore native, averages 25.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. She won her second CAA Player of the Year award this season.
“Our video director right now is downloading as much film as possible to be able to help the coaches,” Frese said moments after the Terps learned their fate. “And then it’s doing a lot of film work, prep work, scout work. We’ll practice, have a day off probably Tuesday or Wednesday to get ready for the game on Friday.”
If Maryland gets by the Blue Hens, it will face either No. 5-seed Virginia Tech or No. 12-seed Florida Gulf Coast in the second round.