Bobcats are mystery for Terps so far

Students in College Park are out of class this week for spring break. But after Monday's night's NCAA tournament selection show, it was time to quiz the players on the Maryland women's basketball team.

So what state is the Terrapins' first round foe, Quinnipiac, from?

"I'm not going to lie. I don't know," freshman Chloe Pavlech of Cincinnati said.

NCAA first round
No. 13 Quinnipiac at No. 4 Maryland
When » Saturday, 11:15 a.m.
Where » Comcast Center

Two Terps guessed their home state.

"Pennsylvania?" asked junior Katie Rutan of Ambler. "Actually I don't know."

"Pennsylvania, right?" junior All-America Alyssa Thomas, who is from Harrisburg, said with slightly more conviction. "I'm not really sure."

Junior Alicia DeVaughn, who is from Florida, suggested it doesn't matter.

"I have no idea. I don't know," DeVaughn said. "I just know that they come to College Park Saturday morning."

Hamden, Conn., is the home of Quinnipiac. Perhaps the mystery surrounding its location is partly because the Bobcats have never been to the NCAA tournament. But in the Northeast Conference championship game Sunday, Quinnipiac (30-2) bombarded Saint Francis, an actual school from Pennsylvania, 72-33 for its biggest win in program history.

With 22 straight wins, Quinnipiac is riding a wave of momentum and recognition in a state where women's basketball makes front-page news -- not that word got down to College Park.

"Now it's time for us to do our homework and study up on them," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I'm still learning to pronounce their name."

While Quinnipiac is a No. 13 seed, Maryland is slotted at No. 4. After being ranked as high as No. 5 and residing in the top 10 most of the season, the No. 12 Terps might have expected better. But three losses in their last five games were costly.

Gathered at Heritage Hall in Comcast Center along with alumni, coaches and supporters, the Terps still cheered their name when it was revealed.

"I was a little shocked that we were a four seed," said Pavlech, the Terps' point guard. "Even though we didn't get a shoutout on ESPN or anything, it's kind of good to be under the radar and kinda surprise teams and analysts and whoever else who's doubting us. I really think this team can go all the way. I'm ready to play right now."

Also coming to College Park are Big Ten tournament runner-up Michigan State (24-8), which is seeded No. 5, and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion, No. 12 Marist (26-6). It is the second straight trip to College Park for the Spartans, who arrived last year as a No. 10 seed, falling in the opening round to Louisville.

"I know they've had a tremendous season," Frese said. "I know they went through a lot of injuries, similar to us, and have had a terrific Big Ten run."

Injuries have been a continual theme for Maryland, which lost three players to ACL tears before the end of November. With a thin bench, the Terps have had about as much success as possible. When they take the floor Saturday morning against Quinnipiac, they will be operating on 14 days' rest, a much-needed break for a team with seven rotation players.

"The break has helped a lot. Everyone rested their legs," DeVaughn said. "We came out in practice today, [and] a couple of us were saying we felt like we could run a marathon. It was just so different."