NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Defending national champion and sixth seed Maryland begins its NCAA Tournament run on Friday when it faces dangerous No. 11 North Carolina-Wilmington in the first round of the South Region.
Maryland (19-9) lost four starters from last season's title team but has advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th straight year - the longest stretch in school history.
The lone starter back from last year's team is point guard Steve Blake, who averages 11.9 points and 7.2 assists. His 953 career assists place him seventh on the all-time list.
Maryland may have only one starter back, but it starts four seniors along with freshman Nik Caner-Medley. Senior shooting guard Drew Nicholas is the best of the group besides Blake and was third in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring at 17.7 points per contest.
The Terrapins still are trying to notch their seventh straight 20-win season after losing the regular-season finale at Virginia and falling to North Carolina in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.
North Carolina-Wilmington (24-6) upset Southern California in overtime in the first round last season and captured the Colonial Athletic Association title for the second year in a row. The Seahawks have won nine straight games since a loss at Old Dominion on February 12.
CAA Player of the Year Brett Blizzard leads NC-Wilmington with a 21.3-point average. Blizzard is one of the most accurate shooters in the country and connects at nearly 45 percent from beyond the arc.
Blizzard was a huge factor in last year's NCAA Tournament, scoring 18 points in the win over USC. He netted 29 points and single-handedly kept the Seahawks in the game in a second-round loss to Indiana.
Maryland posted a 74-36 victory over NC-Wilmington in the first meeting between the schools on December 27, 1997.
The winner faces Xavier or Troy State in Sunday's second round.