NCAA Tournament Elite Eight Preview: No. 2 Seeded Maryland Women’s Basketball vs. No. 1 Seeded South Carolina

Maryland women’s basketball broke an eight-year Elite Eight drought on Saturday, defeating No. 3 No. 3 Notre Dame 76-59.

The celebrations will be short-lived, however, as Maryland’s final stumbling block to reaching the Final Four comes in the form of reigning national champions and No. 1 seed South Carolina, who have not lost a game in 385 days.

Head Coach Dawn Staley’s side are the clear favorites to repeat as champions, but the Terps will look to prevent the Gamecocks from reaching their third straight Final Four.

Game Information

Monday, March 27, 2023 at 7 p.m. ET, Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, South Carolina


Stream: Watch ESPN

How did you come here?

#2 Seed Maryland Turtles (28-6, 15-3 Big Ten)

The Terps swept past number 15 Holy Cross in the Round of 64 before making the Sweet 16 for the third straight year when they rolled past number 7 Arizona behind a strong second half.

Maryland brought the momentum it had built at College Park to Greenville, beating Notre Dame for the second time this season on Saturday, this time by 17 points.

Maryland is now in its 11th Elite Eight in program history (5-5). It last reached a regional final in 2015, beating Tennessee before losing to eventual national champions UConn in the Final Four.

No. 1-Seed South Carolina Gamecocks (35-0, 16-0 SEC)

South Carolina is the best team in the country and has been for two seasons. On a 41-game winning streak, the Gamecocks are aiming to become the 10th undefeated national champion of all time.

Led by Aliyah Boston, likely to be the first overall WNBA draft pick, the Gamecocks were named No. 1 overall and are big favorites to repeat.

The SEC champions unsurprisingly rode to victory in the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament. They defeated 16th-ranked Norfolk State and 8th-ranked USF by 32 and 31 points, respectively, before beating 4th-ranked UCLA 59-43 in the Sweet 16.

what happened last time

When these teams last met on November 11, Maryland was a completely different roster. Head coach Brenda Frese didn’t know what she had on her team or a fixed rotation. Maryland was ranked 17th at the time and was also without the All-American Diamond Miller, and the Terps fell 81-56 at the XFINITY Center.

The Gamecocks are outselling their opponents by an average of 30 points per game this season, which makes the 25-point loss seem a little less glaring.

Maryland actually went into halftime with just six points and was never really out until the fourth quarter, thanks to a 21-point outing from senior guard Abby Meyers. But the size and strength of the Gamecocks was just too big.

Boston finished with a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds as South Carolina doubled Maryland in paint scoring and had 55 rebounds on the terps’ 32.

Three things to see

1. Arizona was great. Notre Dame was bigger. South Carolina is the largest. South Carolina is the nation’s largest team, ranking first in both rebounding margin and blocks per game. An undersized Maryland team was able to use an impressive transition play against Arizona and Notre Dame to minimize the impact of the size difference, but South Carolina is a different beast. Boston (6-foot-5) and Kamilla Cardoso (6-foot-7) are two of the most dominant players in the nation. It’s a seemingly unlikely feat for Maryland to compete with Carolina’s Bigs, but the Terps have consistently proved people wrong this season.

2. It’s essentially a home game for the Gamecocks. Bon Secours Wellness Arena, home of Monday’s game, is a 90-minute drive from Columbia, South Carolina. It will be packed with Gamecock fans. A street-like environment in a huge game will be familiar to the Terps, who had to play the Big Ten Tournament semifinals against Iowa in front of 12,000 fans – almost all of whom were pro-Hawkeyes.

3. Can the terps keep the excitement going? The odds are against Maryland, but it’s March and this year’s tournament was full of surprises. For the first time since 2009, the Sweet 16 didn’t contain every #1 seed. Maryland is 9-4 against ranked teams this season, with five wins against top 10 teams. The last time Maryland had five top 10 wins in a season was in 2005–06 when it won the national championship. Frese aims to lead Maryland to the seventh Final Four in program history.

Along the road

South Carolina is looking to book its ticket to Dallas and reach the Final Four for the third year in a row. On the other hand, Maryland is trying to play in the national semifinals for the first time since 2015. The winner of Monday’s game meets the winner of Iowa, number 2, and Louisville, number 5.

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