Members of Maryland women's basketball team have been thinking about a place to spend spring break. They've already come up with a suitable site.

The eighth-ranked Terrapins defeated UCLA earlier this season on the road and will be headed west again if they can beat Stanford today at 3 p.m. at Cole Field House in the opening round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament.

"We had a nice time at UCLA. It would be kind of nice to go to California for spring break," said sophomore guard Marcia Richardson.

"We want to go to California," said junior forward Debbie Lytle. "We smell the nationals."

The winner of today's game advances to the regional semifinals on March 19-21 at Stanford against the winner of the Missouri-Oregon game. The semifinals are March 26 at Old Dominion, with the final on March 28.

Maryland was placed in the West Region because a number of Eastern teams dominate the national rankings. Maryland was seeded lower than second-ranked Cheyney State and third-ranked Old Dominion, and all three teams could not be placed in the same region.

"If you look at it and see the rankings in the East, somebody had to leave," said Maryland Coach Chris Weller. "I wasn't that surprised. I would just as soon not play them (Cheyney State and Old Dominion) again."

This is the first NCAA women's basketball tournament. Last year nearly all the top 20 teams, including Maryland, switched their affiliation from the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women to the NCAA.

This is the Terrapins' fifth year of postseason play. Last year Maryland advanced to the AIAW quarterfinals before losing to second-ranked Tennessee.

Two weeks ago, Maryland (22-6) won the ACC tournament, defeating Clemson, 93-81, in Raleigh, N.C. "The ACC tournament was the best caliber of basketball we've played all season," said Richardson.

"We are all coming into our own," said Lytle. "Everything is starting to click."

Today's game matches two teams with different styles. Both teams feel the key is to control the tempo.

"The tempo of this game will be very important," said Cardinal Coach Dotty McCrea. "We have to control the pace of the game, attack, and make them play to our style. People who like to run take that away."

"I think both teams will try to control the tempo," said Weller. "The winner will be the team that can force the action. We will want to pick up the tempo and keep it a quick game."

Stanford (19-7) has won seven of its last eight.