Despite the earliest exit from the Big Ten tournament in program history Friday, the University of Maryland Terrapins are still a lock to make the Women’s March Madness tournament.
Online sports betting in Maryland won’t be making its debut in time for the big dance, but the Lady Terps will with high expectations.
As the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament, Maryland got a bye into the quarterfinals, where they squared off with the No. 5 seed Indiana University. It was a battle between two nationally-ranked teams with Maryland ranked 11th in the country, while Indiana held the No. 14 spot.
The Hoosiers came into tournament play riding a cold streak with just one win in their final five regular-season contests. It included a 67-64 loss to the terrapins exactly one week ago.
As a result of the stretch, the program saw its national ranking slide from No. 5 to No. 14. But the Hoosiers turned it around when the postseason began.
Indiana dispatched Rutgers University in the first round of tournament action to set up another matchup with Maryland.
Unlike last week, the Hoosiers put on a dominant performance en route to a 62-51 win with Maryland never holding a lead.
If this were the Maryland men’s team, a loss would end their season. With a 15-15 overall record and 7-12 in conference play, the men will likely need to win the conference tournament to get a spot in March Madness.
For the women, however, this is just a blip on the radar. Ultimately, it doesn’t change their national championship goals.
Possible home-court advantage for first two rounds of Women’s March Madness
Yes, the early exit will hurt Maryland’s seeding in the NCAA tournament. But it’s not like they lost to an unranked Purdue team. Not even three weeks ago, the Hoosiers were a top-five team in the country.
That should buy the Terrapins some brownie points with the selection committee. After all, the committee is made up of humans who are judging an overall body of work to seed teams.
Furthermore, the Big Ten is one of the toughest conferences in women’s basketball. The top five seeds are all nationally ranked in the top 25.
2022 Big Ten Regular Season Standings
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Let’s assume Friday’s loss only costs the Terrapins a few spots in the rankings. And they start the NCAA tournament ranked No. 15 in the country. That would likely give them a No. 4 seed for the Women’s March Madness tournament.
If they stay in the top 16 national seeds, they will get to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament on their home court.
Unlike the men’s tournament, the first two rounds will be held at the home courts of the top 16 seeds. The field moves to neutral sites in the Sweet 16.
Based on the numbers, playing on their home floor would be a huge advantage for the Terps. They posted an 8-1 record in their own gym this season.
Home-grown youth leading the charge
Maryland is led by Sophomore forward Angel Reese. The Baltimore native went to College Park as the most decorated prospect in program history.
Reese was a McDonald’s High School All-American and was ranked as the No. 2 overall player in the 2020 high school class.
A foot injury cost her about half of her freshman season but was still named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.
Her sophomore campaign was where she really lived up to the hype of her high school accolades. Reese was named to the All-Big Ten First Team and the All-Big Ten Defensive Team. Additionally, she is a finalist for the Katrina McClain Award, which is given to the best power forward in the NCAA.
Reese averages a double-double per game with 17.5 points and 10.8 rebounds this year. A championship run by the Lady Terrapins will be contingent on continued strong performances from Reese.
A good bet for Women’s March Madness?
Caesars Sportsbook has Maryland listed as +1,200 to win the women’s national championship. The Caesars Sportsbook in Maryland is found inside the Horseshoe Baltimore.
In most situations, this would seem like they were big underdogs. But in actuality, they are one of the favorites in the betting world. South Carolina is the favorite at +200 and the University of Connecticut is the betting market’s second pick at +325.
Aside from the top two spots, only Stanford and North Carolina State are more favored than Maryland at +600 and +1,000, respectively.
You can place a bet on the Maryland women’s team at five of the six Maryland casinos. The only property without a sportsbook is Rocky Gap Casino.
The selection committee will create the bracket on Sunday, March 13. Games will start just a few days later with the “First Four” games kicking off on Wednesday, March 16 and Thursday, March 17.
The Women’s Final Four will start on Friday, April 1 and the national championship is slated for Sunday, April 3.