Spokane is a familiar place for NCAA regionals, so it's only fitting that it hosts a very familiar matchup.
Top-seeded Maryland and fourth-seeded Duke are preparing to renew their long ACC rivalry and rehash their national championship matchup from 2006 in the opening game here Saturday.
The Terrapins (32-2), who have never failed to reach the Elite Eight as a No. 1 seed, ride a 26-game winning streak into their fourth consecutive trip to the Sweet 16. Duke and Maryland have faced off 80 times in their history, so this is a matchup of teams and coaches who know one another incredibly well.
Duke (23-10), which has won eight of the last 10 meetings in the series, was eliminated in the second round the past two seasons but won two games in Cameroon Indoor to advance to the regional semifinals. The Blue Devils, however, have lost nine of their 10 games away from home this season. And Spokane is a long trip from Durham.
Tennessee, meanwhile, continues its march back to the Final Four in the nightcap against Gonzaga, a team that is comfortable with both the setting and this place in the bracket. Let's look at three X factors for each matchup.
No. 1 seed Maryland vs. No. 4 seed Duke
• ESPN/WatchESPN, 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Mincy's last stand: Redshirt senior Laurin Mincy is making the most of her last tournament run, scoring 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting (including six 3-pointers) Monday against Princeton to lead the Terps into the Sweet 16.
Mincy, who is shooting 86 percent from the free throw line this season, has battled through injury and a slow start to her final season, but is picking up steam at the right time.
Experience matters?: Duke, heading to Spokane with only eight recruited scholarship players, is playing with a short bench after injuries to Lynee Belton and Oderah Chidom, and have played without a true point guard most of the season. The Blue Devils also have two freshmen in the starting lineup (Azura Stevens and 3-point shooter Rebecca Greenwell). Will their relative inexperience on this stage be a factor against a Maryland team that went to the Final Four a season ago?
Maryland has been going eight- or nine-deep for most of the season, riding the success of a variety of players, including Mincy and the All-Big Ten trio of sophomore Lexie Brown (13.7 points per game), Brionna Jones (12.4 ppg) Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (13.2 ppg).
Dominating the paint?: Elizabeth Williams, the only player in ACC history to register 1,900 points, 1,000 rebounds and 400 blocks, is actually doing some of her best work on the defensive end in the tournament, and the 6-foot-4 post is going to figure big in this matchup.
But she's not working in the paint alone. Stevens has had a stellar debut season, including a big game against Mississippi State in the second round with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Stevens holds the Duke freshman record for most rebounds in a season.
No. 2 seed Tennessee vs. No. 11 seed Gonzaga
• ESPN/WatchESPN, 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday
The country's most legendary program in Tennessee is matched up against the NCAA tournament's most reliable Cinderella in Gonzaga, playing a stone's throw from campus at Spokane Arena.
The Zags, who lost three of five heading into the NCAA tournament and were eliminated in the semifinal game of the West Coast Conference tournament, aren't new to this scenario. They are making their fourth appearance in the Sweet 16 in the past six years and have eight tournament wins as a double-digit seed. But it's not like the Lady Vols are newbies either, despite a 3-2 record in their last five regional semifinal games.
This is the first meeting between these two teams in the NCAA tournament. Tennessee leads the all-time series 3-0.
Tennessee has a 25-1 all-time record against double-digit seeds and will be a heavy favorite here to advance to the Elite Eight.
Tennessee's win over Pittsburgh on Monday was the 29th of the season for the Lady Vols, the most wins in a single season since Holly Warlick took over the program. In fact, the only losses that Tennessee has experienced since mid-January are a pair to SEC champion South Carolina.
A matter of Graves concern: Bashaara Graves has had a very good start to this NCAA tournament, and the Lady Vols need nothing less as they get to the climax of the season without Isabelle Harrison on the floor. Graves put up a career-high 24 points in Tennessee's opening-round win over Boise State and then followed up on Monday with a 21-point, 14-rebound effort against Pittsburgh. Most impressively, 10 of her season-high 14 rebounds came on the offensive end, giving the Lady Vols crucial scoring opportunities in a tough game. It was the first time in her career that she put up back-to-back games with at least 20 points. She will be a difficult defensive assignment for the Zags.
All about offense: Playing against a team known for its defensive intensity, Gonzaga is going to have to find a way to get its offense going to succeed, because winning a low-scoring battle isn't in the cards. The Bulldogs are 23-0 when they score at least 70 points this season and 25-1 when they shoot a better field goal percentage than their opponent. Gonzaga is a perimeter team first, hitting a school-record 207 3-pointers this season, led by Keani Albanez with 60.
Comforts of home: Gonzaga has been this route a few times before, coming back to play Spokane as a double-digit seed, filling Spokane Arena with supporters and making a lot of noise in this tournament. The last time the Bulldogs were in the Sweet 16 in Spokane, in 2011, it went pretty well. Led by point guard Courtney Vandersloot, they defeated Louisville in the Sweet 16 and reached the regional final game before falling to Stanford. Gonzaga is 7-2 all-time as a No. 11 seed.