They are 3,000 miles from home, which the Maryland women's basketball team says does not matter.

They are also 2,000 miles from Knoxville, where the University of Tennessee hosts the Mideast Regional.

This, they say, does matter.

"For the last two years (in AIAW playoffs) we played Tennessee in the quarterfinals in Knoxville and lost. We are not thinking about a jinx, but we are happy we are not playing Tennessee again," said senior forward Myra Waters, No. 2 in scoring in the history of Maryland women's basketball and No. 2 on this year's team to junior guard Jasmina Perazic (15 points per game to 14).

Maryland Coach Chris Weller put it differently: "We're just glad we didn't get (No. 1) Louisiana Tech."

Friday night at 9 EST, seventh-ranked Maryland (23-6) will play 20th-ranked Missouri (24-8) in the first game of the West Regional at Stanford's Maples Pavilion.

There are still 16 teams remaining in the NCAA tournament. To reach the final four (in Norfolk, March 26-28), the Terrapins must beat Missouri, then defeat on Sunday the winner of Friday night's Long Beach State-Drake game.

So, first things first. Before they can break their streak of bad luck in the final eight, they have to break, among other things, Missouri's press.

"Missouri is a lot like our team," said Weller, adding, "yes, we know about their press."

Maryland reached this stage by defeating Stanford, 82-48, in a West Regional game at College Park earlier this week. With Perazic scoring 20 and junior guard Debbie Lytle scoring 10 points and adding 13 assists, Maryland broke an 18-18 tie with a 25-7 run before the half.

"We heard about that Stanford game," says Missouri Coach JoAnne Rutherford. "But we can run, too."

People who haven't heard much about how Missouri got here probably have felt vibrations of the shock waves. The Tigers defeated Oregon, in Eugene, 59-53, to snap both a 40-game home win streak and the expectations of many who seemed certain of Oregon's presence in this West Regional. They were wrong.

"It was a very big win," said Rutherford.

"I was surprised, not shocked," said Weller.