2011-12 Maryland Basketball Schedule Preview: Overviewing the Terps' Slate

More MVPe', please.

We're still taking questions for the roundtable mailbag, which should be up in a day or two. If we don't answer your question in the roundtable, I'll do my best to answer them in the comments. Anyway, if you have a question you'd like to see your friendly neighborhood Maryland bloggers discuss, drop it in the comments over there.

Of course, we're going to have a ton of basketball preview coverage over the coming weeks, from that roundtable to player previews and perhaps a few more in-depth pieces on Mark Turgeon, recruiting, and the Alex Len situation. But to open up the preview slate, I'm trying something a little different: a schedule overview. Over the next 2000 words or so, you'll find a quick mini-capsule on each of Maryland's opponents this season, recapping what happened last year, who is back and who is added, and a quick summarization. (Also included is one for each of the potential matchups in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, which obviously won't be decided until the round one games are played).

Ready to be preview'd? Good. Let's start it up.

11-13-11, vs. UNC-Wilmington Seahawks (College Park, Md.)
Last year: 13-18, 8th in CAA, 205 in KenPom
This year: Three returning starters, 10th in CAA preseason poll
Blurb: Terps starting with a cupcake. Second-team preseason all-CAA forward Keith Rendlemen could challenge front line, but Seahawks aren't a real threat.

Round 1, PR Tip-Off: 11-17-11, vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Last year:
25-12, won SEC West, NIT runner-up, 46 in KenPom
This year: Three returning starters including last year's top three scorers; add five-star SG Trevor Lacey; likely favorites for SEC West title
Blurb: Things get tough fast. Anthony Grant's Tide should be top 25, feature star post player JaMychal Green, and welcome a top-5 recruiting class featuring the aforementioned Lacey.

Round 2, PR Tip-Off: 11-18-11, vs. Colorado Buffaloes (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Last year:
24-14, 6th in Big 12, NIT semi-finalist, 56 in KenPom
This year: One returning starter
Blurb: Tad Boyle is doing a great job keeping Colorado relevant in recruiting, but departure of NBA draft pick Alec Burks and top four scorers will be tough to replace. Winnable, if tough, game, if this is what the matchup dictates.

Round 2, PR Tip-Off: 11-18-11, vs. Wichita St. Shockers (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Last year:
29-8, 2nd in MVC, NIT winner, 26 in KenPom
This year: Three returning starters, expected to be among MVC favorites
Blurb: Mark Turgeon's old haunt, the Shockers will need to replace leading scorer J.T. Durley and last year's NIT MOP, Graham Hatch, but do return a top-notch back-court in Toure' Murry and Joe Ragland.

Round 3, PR Tip-Off: 11-20-11, vs. Iona Gaels (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Last year:
25-12, 2nd in the MAAC, CollegeInsider.com Tournament bid, 65 in KenPom
This year: Four returning starters, last year's four leading scorers
Blurb: Likely won't make too much noise, but there's a lot of experience for the Gaels. Forward Michael Glover averaged a double-double last year and will challenge Maryland's inexperienced front line.

Round 3, PR Tip-Off: 11-20-11, vs. Purdue Boilermakers (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Last year:
26-8, 2nd in Big Ten, 3 seed in NCAAT, 9 in KenPom
This year: Three returning starters, plus the return of always-injured Robbie Hummel
Blurb: If Maryland faces the Boilermakers, either the Terps are better than expected or Purdue is worse. Boilermakers lose E'Twaun Moore and Ja'Juan Johnson, but the return of Hummel and cat-quick PG Lewis Jackson should make sure they remain in Big Ten's top-half.

Round 3, PR Tip-Off: 11-20-11, vs. Temple Owls (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Last year:
26-8, 2nd in A-10, 7 seed in NCAAT, 38 in KenPom, defeated Maryland 64-61
This year: Four returning starters, including leading scorer
Blurb: Owls lose Lavoy Allen, but return the deadly guard combo of Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez, who beat the Terrapins last season. Should the two meet in PR, a win will be tough.

Round 3, PR Tip-Off: 11-20-11, vs. Western Michigan Broncos (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Last year:
21-13, won MAC West, 163 in KenPom
This year: Entire starting five returns, expected to challenge for MAC title
Blurb: WMU is a sleeper: the MAC West isn't very good, but they still won it and return all five starters from that team, including two 13 ppg scorers. Also, they have Juwan Howard, Jr., which is cool. Winnable game, but no gimme. 

11-25-11, vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (College Park, Md.)
Last year:
 10-20, 7th in Atlantic Sun, 277 in KenPom
This year: Entire starting five returns, expected to be middle of pack in A-Sun
Blurb: Another cupcake-type, FGC does return their entire starting five ... but it's a starting five that lost 20 games last year. 

11-29-11, vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (College Park, Md.)
Last year:
 20-14, fourth in Big Ten, 9 seed in NCAAT, 18 in KenPom, beat Maryland 80-76
This year: Two returning starters, plus highly-touted big man Meyers Leonard and welcomes four four-star recruits; loses all-everything point guard Demetri McCamey and young SF Jereme Richmond
Blurb: Will rely heavily on youth, inexperience, and the progression of 7-footer Leonard, who has the ability to torment Maryland's front court. Will be intriguing match-up.

12-4-11, vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Washington D.C.)
Last year:
 27-7, second in Big East, 2 seed in the NCAAT, 15 in KenPom
This year: Two returning starters, loses Ben Hansbrough and starting post players Tyrone Nash and Carleton Scott
Blurb: Irish weren't a deep team last year anyway, and the loss of Hansbrough, Nash, and Scott will hurt, but Tim Ambromaitis is still extremely skilled. They lack experienced bite in the front court. Shouldn't be nearly as good as last year.

12-7-11, vs. Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers (College Park, Md.)
Last year:
 11-21, 7th in NEC, 277 in KenPom
This year: Four returning starters
Blurb: The run of cupcakes before the ACC season kicks into full-gear begins. The Mount is stronger than usual and led by star PG Lamar Trice, but shouldn't pose serious threat.

12-14-11, vs. FIU Golden Panthers (College Park, Md.)
Last year:
 11-19, last in Sun Belt East, 285 in KenPom
This year: Three returning starters
Blurb: The Isaiah Thomas-coached Golden Panthers haven't seen the leap that was expected of them when Zeke took over, at least not yet. Former four-star big man Dominique Ferguson will be a sophomore this year and expected to contribute heavily; is probably just as talented as anyone in Maryland's front court.

12-23-11, vs. Radford Highlanders (College Park, Md.)
Last year:
 5-24, last in the Big South, 331 in KenPom
This year: Entire starting five returns
Blurb: A serious rebuilding job, Radford was legitimately one of the worst teams in the country last year. Should be better with more experience and everyone back, but it'll be baby steps.

12-28-11, vs. Albany Great Danes (College Park, Md.)
Last year:
 16-16, fourth in America East, 241 in KenPom
This year: Four returning starters 
Blurb: All but one player is back for the Great Danes, but the one they lost is a doozy: guard Tim Ambrose averaged nearly 17 ppg and was used on nearly 30% of possessions. Can junior Logan Aronhalt replace his production?

12-31-11, vs. Samford Bulldogs (College Park, Md.)
Last year:
 12-19, last in Southern Conference North (isn't that a contradiction in terms?), 308 in KenPom
This year: Returns two starters
Blurb: Samford was, like Radford, pretty darn bad last year, and losing three senior starters isn't going to help it. Good news: at least they return last year's leading scorer.

1-3-12, vs. Cornell Big Red (College Park, Md.)
Last year:
 10-18, fifth in Ivy League, 191 in KenPom
This year: Three returning starters, including top three scorers
Blurb: Everyone remembers Cornell's great run under Steve Donohue, but this is a vastly different team from that one - and not nearly as good. Will have great guard play led by Chris Wroblewski, but may struggle with post play.

1-8-12, @ N.C. State Wolfpack (Raleigh, N.C.)
Last year:
 15-16, 11th in ACC, 91 in KenPom, 0-2 vs. Maryland
This year: Three returning starters; adds three-star recruit Tyler Harris, unranked Jaqawn Raymond
Blurb: The Debbie Yow Bowl marks Maryland's first true road game of the season, which makes this a bit tougher than it would be otherwise. Sophomore C.J. Leslie will be expected to make big strides. But without Ryan Harrow and Javier Gonzalez, who plays point guard?

1-11-12, vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (College Park, Md.)
Last year:
 8-24, last in ACC, 251 in KenPom, 0-2 vs. Maryland
This year: Three returning starters; adds three former three-stars, plus gets Tony Chennault back from injury
Blurb: J.T. Terrell, a freshman last year, might've been a cancer in some ways, but at least he scored points. Still, Deacs have plenty of talent 1 through 5, and could surprise some people this year.

1-15-12, vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (College Park, Md.)
Last year:
 13-18, 10th in ACC, 89 in KenPom, lost to Maryland 74-63
This year: Three returning starters; adds two former three-stars
Blurb: Tech brings back talented guys like Glen Rice Jr. and Mfon Udofia, but Iman Shumpert was hugely important to that machine last year, and he's gone. Unless Rice takes a huge step forward or Udofia stabilizes, Tech won't make serious noise. Should be a competitive game.

1-17-12, @ Florida St. Seminoles (Tallahassee, Fl.)
Last year:
 23-11, 3rd in ACC, 31 in KenPom, lost to Maryland 78-62
This year: Three returning starters; adds two four-star swing men, including former MD target Antwan Space
Blurb: Noles are emerging as a consistent upper-middle ACC threat, but this year will depend on how much former five-star Michael Snaer can make good on his recruiting ranking. Without Chris Singleton and Derwin Kitchen, no one knows where the leadership comes from.

1-21-12, @ Temple Owls (Palestra, Philadelphia, Pa.)
Last year: 26-8, 2nd in A-10, 7 seed in NCAAT, 38 in KenPom, defeated Maryland 64-61
This year: Four returning starters, including leading scorer
Blurb: Could be the second time these two meet, should things end up the right way in the P.R. Tip-Off. Again, the combo of Moore and Fernandez is daunting, but at least they don't have a killer front-court.

1-25-12, vs. Duke Blue Devils (College Park, Md.)
Last year: 32-5, 2nd in the ACC, 1 seed in the NCAAT, 2 in KenPom, 3-0 vs. Maryland
This year: Three returning starters; adds Austin Rivers, Quinn Cook, Michael Gbinije, two other four-stars
Blurb: Duke's probably going to be Duke and the addition of Rivers is intimidating, but Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith were the real cogs to that machine last season. Without them, Blue Devils shouldn't be unbeatable. And, of course, this is the Gary Williams game.

1-28-12, vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (College Park, Md.)
Last year: 22-12, 5th in ACC, NIT bid, 34 in KenPom, 2-0 vs. Maryland
This year: Two returning starters; adds Dorian Finney-Smith, two other four-stars
Blurb: Hokies lose Malcolm Delaney, Jeff Allen, and Dorenzo Hudson, which should drop them to the lower-middle of the ACC this year. Still, we're well-acquainted with Erick Green, and DFS has instant-impact potential.

2-1-12, @ Miami Hurricanes (Coral Gables, Fl.)
Last year:
21-15, 9th in ACC, NIT bid, 58 in KenPom, beat Maryland 80-66
This year: Four returning starters; adds Bishop Daniels, three-star guard
Blurb: Much of this game will depend on the health of Reggie Johnson, who tore his meniscus in his knee in early July and was scheduled to miss around 6 months. If he's back and healthy, he could eat Maryland's front line single-handedly. If not ... well, will Durand Scott ever become a star point guard?

2-4-12, vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (College Park, Md.)
Last year:
 29-8, 1st in ACC, 2 seed in NCAAT, 12 in KenPom, beat Maryland 87-76
This year: Entire starting five returns; adds P.J. Hairston, James McAdoo
Blurb: UNC is ungodly talented. Think about it: they return John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall, and more or less everyone from a Final Four team, and then add two top-15 players. Seriously, how did they not run out of scholarship space? An early national title favorite. 

2-7-12, @ Clemson Tigers (Clemson, S.C.)
Last year:
22-12, 4th in ACC, 12 seed in NCAAT, 22 in KenPom, lost to Maryland 79-77
This year: Three returning starters plus 6th man Milton Jennings; adds four-star big man Bernard Sullivan, four three-stars
Blurb: One of last year's big surprise teams, Brad Brownell coached Clemson to the NCAAT in a year they weren't expected to seriously challenge. Last year's two best players in Jerai Grant and Demontez Stitt are gone, though, so Tigers will rely on less-proven talent like Jennings and Devin Booker.

2-11-12, @ Duke Blue Devils (Durham, N.C.)
Last year: 32-5, 2nd in ACC, 1 seed in the NCAAT, 2 in KenPom, 3-0 vs. Maryland
This year: Three returning starters; adds Austin Rivers, Quinn Cook, Michael Gbinije, two other four-stars
Blurb: The first team to play Maryland twice (unless the PR Tip-Off works out nicely with Temple). Duke likely won't be top 10 this year, but they'll be close enough to be heavy favorites both times they play Maryland.

2-16-12, vs. Boston College Eagles (College Park, Md.)
Last year:
 21-13, 6th in ACC, NIT bid, 68 in KenPom, 2-0 vs. Maryland
This year: No returning starters; adds seven three-stars
Blurb: Truthfully, BC will likely be the worst team in the conference this year. All-everything guard Reggie Jackson went pro, leaving the Eagles without a returning starter and with only three returners at all. None of the incoming freshman would be described as "impact" on any other ACC team, but at BC they'll be starters. German SF Patrick Heckmann is intriguing, though.

2-18-12, @ Virginia Cavaliers (Charlottesville, Va.)
Last year:
 16-15, 8th in the ACC, 94 in KenPom, 1-1 vs. Maryland
This year: Four returning starters, plus the return of big man Mike Scott thanks to a medical hardship waiver
Blurb: Tony Bennett's bunch has the ability to really surprise this year, with only Mustapha Farrakhan and Will Sherrill leaving the program. With the return of Scott - the Cavaliers' best player before his injury last year - and a few nice recruiting additions, the Cavaliers should be much-improved and have a good chance at making the NCAAT.

2-21-12, vs. Miami Hurricanes (College Park, Md.)
Last year: 21-15, 9th in ACC, NIT bid, 58 in KenPom, beat Maryland 80-66
This year: Four returning starters; adds Bishop Daniels, three-star guard
Blurb: Another repeat game, and big man Johnson will very likely be ready to go by this one. With so much experience and a great game coach in Jim Larranaga, Canes should make some noise.

2-25-12, @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Atlanta, Ga.)
Last year: 13-18, 10th in ACC, 89 in KenPom, lost to Maryland 74-63
This year: Three returning starters; adds two former three-stars
Blurb: Fun fact: Maryland hasn't lost to Georgia Tech in the regular season since 2004. (They did, of course, lose in the post-season two years ago to the Jackets.)

2-29-12, @ North Carolina Tar Heels (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Last year: 29-8, 1st in ACC, 2 seed in NCAAT, 12 in KenPom, beat Maryland 87-76
This year: Entire starting five returns; adds P.J. Hairston, James McAdoo
Blurb: The good news is that just about everyone on UNC's entire team could probably go pro after this year, so next year they'd be really inexperienced. Until then, the collection of talent in Chapel Hill is scary.

3-4-12, vs. Virginia Cavaliers (College Park, Md.)

Last year: 16-15, 8th in the ACC, 94 in KenPom, 1-1 vs. Maryland
This year: Four returning starters, plus the return of big man Mike Scott thanks to a medical hardship waiver
Blurb: Maryland is 1-3 in the past four season-enders against Virginia. Ouch.

Final Thoughts

All in all, it's a strong if unspectacular OOC slate, though that's tempered by a stronger-than-the-last-few-years ACC. If Maryland struggles in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, their OOC SoS will probably be below-average, especially because Illinois and Notre Dame could be anywhere from "great" to "missing the NCAAT". I don't expect Maryland to be a serious NCAA challenger this year, but if they are, winning two - especially if one comes over Alabama - in PR would be huge for them. But, as always, the Terrapins will have a number of shots at a signature win inside the conference, including two shots at Duke and UNC, plus a game against FSU. 

I'll leave with a question to get some discussion going: out of all the games here, which intrigues or excites you the most? The Gary Game against Duke will be an easy answer, but I'm frankly very excited to see the four big OOC games against Illinois, Temple, Notre Dame, and Alabama. Those, much more than the outcome of the Duke game, will determine the direction Maryland's season takes. My answer: I really want to see this team match up against Alabama, even if that means facing JaMychal Green with this frontcourt.

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