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NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 preview: No. 2-seed Maryland women’s basketball vs. No. 3-seed Notre Dame

The Terps and Fighting Irish face off in a rematch with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Maryland at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

There is palpable momentum surrounding No. 2-seed Maryland women’s basketball after its gritty victory over No. 7-seed Arizona in the round of 32. Lots went right for the Terps after it initially didn’t seem it would go that way.

Maryland transformed itself into a resilient team and the ability to have a player step up at any given time. Senior forward Diamond Miller had four points at halftime and scored 20 in the second half on near-perfect shooting from the field against the Wildcats.

Now, Maryland has a date with Notre Dame in the Sweet 16, the spot where the Terps’ season ended last year.

Game information

Saturday, March 25, 2023, 11 a.m. EST, Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, South Carolina


Streaming: Watch ESPN

How did they get here?

No. 2-seed Maryland Terrapins (27-6, 15-3 Big Ten)

The Terps steamrolled past No. 15-seed Holy Cross in their first-round game. The team that was doubted prior to the season sent a message to the rest of the field that it could compete for the title.

Maryland compiled multiple wins over AP-ranked opponents, and while cultivating a chemistry and new identity managed to defeat teams with bonafide stars like UConn and Iowa.

“I’m so happy for everyone in our program, our staff, these players,” head coach Brenda Frese said. “So many things that were unknown last year, I know this group isn’t satisfied just to be able to get to the Sweet 16. This started with their work last summer and the trust and belief that you see.”

During the Big Ten Tournament, Maryland advanced to the semifinals, where it lost to Iowa in the third installment of the season series.

No. 3-seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish (27-5, 15-3 ACC)

The Fighting Irish lost three conference games — to Duke, NC State and North Carolina, respectively — but have had an impressive season under head coach Niele Ivey.

They crushed Southern Utah, 82-56, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and earned a five-point win over Mississippi State in the second round.

Like Maryland, Notre Dame also ended its regular season on a six-game win streak.

Olivia Miles, who became a breakout player for the Fighting Irish averaging 14.3 points per game, was ruled out for the season on March 16 with a knee injury. She was also the leading rebounder on the team at 7.3 boards per game.

What happened last time

On Dec. 1 in South Bend, Indiana, Miller hit an iconic buzzer-beater off one leg to take down the Fighting Irish, 74-72. Miller, who finished the game with 31 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals, received praise on social media from basketball greats Kevin Durant and Steph Curry for the moment.

Sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers, who followed Miller up with her own buzzer-beater at Purdue one week later, also had a fantastic game with 17 points, while no other Terp was in double figures.

Notre Dame sophomore guard Sonia Citron led the Fighting Irish with 24 points. A healthy Miles added 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field, but it wasn’t enough for the then-No. 7 Fighting Irish.

Three things to watch

1. Olivia Miles is out. Miles was shut down for the season after sustaining a knee injury that prevented her from playing in the NCAA Tournament. She has been a star for the Fighting Irish all season.

2. First trips. This is the first trip to the Sweet 16 for some of the non-freshmen Terps. Abby Meyers, Brinae Alexander, Eliza Pinzan and Lavender Briggs all came to Maryland for a better chance at competing for a national title, and they will all take the floor in a regional semifinal for the first time.

3. Miller and Sellers receive love from ESPN. ESPN ranked its top-25 most impressive players on teams in the Sweet 16, and Maryland’s Diamond Miller and Shyanne Sellers came in at No. 4 and No. 18, respectively. Miller and Sellers were catalysts for the Terps’ victory over Arizona last Sunday.

The road ahead

The winner goes on to the Elite Eight and will play the victor of No. 1-seed South Carolina and No. 4-seed UCLA with a spot in the Final Four on the line.