During its first three seasons in the Big Ten, Maryland women's basketball laid waste to the competition, going a combined 99-10 and winning all three conference tournaments. That dominance gave the Terps a top-three seed in the NCAA tournament each of those years.
After losing its three leading scorers in the offseason, Maryland has fallen off a bit this year — Brenda Frese's team is sitting at 25-7 after a Big Ten tournament loss to Ohio State. But the No. 17 Terps are still a lock to make the big dance for the eighth straight season. Here's what four different bracketologists are predicting ahead of Selection Monday.
Charlie Creme has the Terps in a pretty apt spot for their ranking — all else equal, you'd expect the Nos. 17-20 teams in the country to get the No. 5 seeds. Making the trip to Washington state wouldn't be fun, but a Tigers team that's averaging just 67.8 points per game this season wouldn't be too tough of an out.
The Fighting Irish, on the other hand, wouldn't go down easily. They've long been a thorn in Frese's side — the Terps have lost four straight against them — and they're just as dominant as ever this year. If Maryland ends up in the Spokane regional, it'll probably have to go through Notre Dame.
Creme is the relative pessimist of this group — the other three outlets have the Terps as a No. 4 seed. In the Kansas City regional, Summitt's Russell Steinberg thinks that would pit them against the Dukes, who've shot 39.1 percent from the field (!) and 26.5 percent from three (!!!) this year.
Mississippi State's reputation precedes itself at this point. The Bulldogs pulled off the upset of the century in last year's tournament, snapping UConn's 111-game win streak on a buzzer-beater, before falling to South Carolina in the title game. They haven't missed a beat this year, making them a brutal potential foe for the Terps.
CSM's seed and No. 1 seed forecasts are the same as Summitt, but this bracket would feature a different CAA adversary. The Dragons have come on strong after a 2-3 start, tying their all-time record with 16 conference wins. Still, the Terps could make light work of a mid-major club that lost big in its only game against a ranked opponent.
Then, of course, there's the matter of Baylor. The Bears are second in the nation (behind UConn, obviously) with a .512 shooting percentage, which has helped them surpass 30 victories for the eighth season in a row. Kim Mulkey's team is not one you want to be facing in March.