No. 7 seed Arizona will face the second-seeded Maryland Terrapins in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. MST on ESPN.
The odds on DraftKings currently favor Maryland by eight points. The O/U is set at 146.
As for how the teams matchup, we reached out to our sister site Testudo Times to get the lowdown on the Terps. Damon Brooks, Jr. gives his answers to our questions about Arizona alumna Brenda Frese’s team.
Q: Maryland only lost two games at home this season. Against South Carolina, it’s obvious what happened, but what was the key to Nebraska’s win in College Park?
A: Maryland’s loss to Nebraska was sorta of a wake up call because it was there first Big Ten loss of the year. I believe the Terps struggled to defend the three point line evidenced by Nebraska’s 12-of-25 showing. Furthermore, Maryland struggled to contain the dribble penetration of Nebraska guard Jaz Shelley (29 points). Nebraska had four players in double figures and 21 total assists, which kept Maryland off balance, as the ball moved swiftly around the floor. The game was the driving force in Maryland embarking on a six game winning streak with a notable victory over then No. 6 UConn at home.
Q: In its opening round win, Arizona was able to get what it wanted inside both by the guards and the posts, which has usually been the winning formula for the Wildcats. How good has Maryland been at shutting down the paint this season and how do you think they can make that happen against Arizona?
A: Arizona did an excellent job with establishing forward Cate Reese (25 points) on the interior, which opened the floor for driving lanes for guard Shaina Pellington’s 18 point performance. It is no secret that this year’s Maryland team lacks adequate size, so they have utilized creative game plans to defend post players. Despite their size disadvantage, Maryland has been relatively solid with their interior defense. The Terps can cause havoc versus Arizona by making quick rotations on entry passes and defending without fouling. Maryland gets into trouble when they pick up cheap fouls and don’t communicate effectively on defense. It will be a challenge to deal with Reese’s presence, but I’m intrigued to see how they limit her effectiveness.
Q: In her post-game press conference, Brenda Frese said that the Pac-12 has great defensive teams and the Big 10 has great offensive teams. Maryland has been one of the best offensive teams in the country for years, but how is Maryland on the defensive end? What are the Terps’ biggest selling points on defense and are the 24 turnovers they forced against Holy Cross an anomaly?
A: Maryland is a defense that looks to force a bunch of turnovers that would ignite its transition offense. The Terps have exceptional length on the perimeter with six foot two guard Shyanne Sellers and six-foot guard Abby Meyers. Any five that head coach Brenda Frese trots onto the court typically plays with active hands and outstanding defensive activity. Like I’ve previously mentioned, the Terps are consistently looking to turn defense into offense, as they have several quick athletes with unique skill sets. In their game versus Holy Cross, Maryland started the game with an emphasis to set the tone on defense. They allowed four first quarter points along with 24 forced turnovers. Maryland forces 19.5 turnovers per game, so it’s safe to conclude that they’re an elite defensive team. While 24 is a little bit of a stretch in the NCAA Tournament, it wouldn’t surprise me if they enjoyed continued success in the turnover category.
Q: Diamond Miller is great at 19.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg, but if there’s one other player who has to play well—whether on offense, defense or the boards—to get this win, who is that and why?
A: I think it’s Maryland sophomore guard Shyanne Sellers. She’s made a significant leap this season, increasing her point total from 7.7 to 13.8. When Sellers arrived in College Park a year ago, her defensive abilities was arguably the best in the Big Ten. Sellers has outstanding defensive instincts and exceptional lateral movement, so she’s able to harass defenders for the entire 40 minutes. But Sellers has shined with more ball handling responsibilities, as she’s decisive in scoring or finding teammates for scoring opportunities. The sophomore guard has scored in double figures 25 times and has proven to make plays in the clutch. Sellers drilled a game-winning three versus Purdue earlier in the season paving the way for a solid second season with the Terps.
Q: How do you think the game will go and do you have a score prediction?
A: I think the game will be very competitive from the onset. Two experienced teams. Two talented coaches in Brenda Frese and Adia Barnes. I think Diamond Miller will look to put on a show in what’s expected as her last game at XFINITY Center in College Park. With a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line, I think Maryland creates separation in the third, eventually cruising to a 79-68 victory.