Maryland track coach Frank Costello said yesterday that his Terrapins "definitely must be considered the underdogs" to Villanova in the ICA4A Indoor Track and Field Championships at Princeton today and Sunday.

Costello cited "the tremendous strength of Villanova in the running events" which he predicted would enable the Wildcats to capture the title Maryland won last year over about 70 schools.

Jack Pyrah, Villanova's assistant track coach, disagreed with Costello. "Maryland has a really solid, powerful field team and Greg Robertson has a pretty good shot at winning the hurdles so I expect them to keep the title," Pyrah said yesterday.

Of the 25 Maryland trackmen who met the NCAA standards for this meet, Costello said the best performances are likely to come from Tom Anderson and Ian Pyka in the shot put, John Davenport and Dennis Ivory in the long jump, Larry Long and Ivory in the triple jump, Brad Turley in the pole vault and Brian Melly in the high jump.

Davenport won the ACC title in the long jump Feb. 20 with a leap of 24-1 1/2, while Ivory outdistanced the triple-jumpers with 50-7 1/2, Turley captured the pole vault at 15-6, and Melly set an ACC meet record with a high jump of 7-1. Robertson tied the ACC meet record of 7.2 seconds in the 60-yard high hurdles.

Pyrah predicted that Villanova would pick up points from the efforts of Phil (Tiny) Kane in the mile. Don Paige in the 1,000 and Mark Belger in the 880.

Costello called Belger "the top half-miler in the country."

Pyrah said, "Our only chance is if (Nate) Cooper comes out of nowhere and jumps 52 feet. Otherwise, Maryland will go one-two in the triple jump." Cooper jumped 52-8 last year, but he is recovering from a sprained ankle.

Georgetown's Jim Peterson, who won the IC4A indoor three-mile last year, is rated highly in this year's two-mile while Navy's Daryl Anderson will defend his title in the 440 and Navy's Tony Campbell hopes to score in the 60-yard high hurdles.