UNLEASH THE FAUSTFACE
I mean, come on, it's not like we're particularly surprised by any of the opponents here. Still, a schedule release is easy traffic/discussion bait, so up it goes. The Maryland specific version is here. And no, I don't know why they only put it in PDFs.
[Update: Maryland went ahead and just let the whole thing fly later in the day. The PDF of the entire schedule, in and out of conference, is here. We already knew about most every non-con team, except perhaps a few of the cupcakes. (IUPUI FTW!) Anyway, not much to add to what's already been said, so I'll leave it as is.]
There isn't too much else to say here, but a few things stick out immediately. First: starting off with Virginia Tech! And at home at that. There's a good chance the Hokies will be pretty bad this year, so getting them to start things off (before they've gelled, hopefully) is a nice introduction to ACC play for a freshman-heavy team. Then things ramp up with Florida State, but at least it's a home game, so again, the freshman aren't jumping off the deep end here. A nice, steady introduction to a rough league. And hell, their first road game is at Miami. The 'Canes should be half-decent this year, but it's hardly a home-court advantage there. If I could pick any first ACC road trip for the young guns, this would probably be it. (Actually, it'd be BC, but hey, I'll take this.) And then things ramp up again with the first elite conference opponent of the season - N.C. State - but even that's at home.
So hey, for the first four games, it's not awful. In fact, it's damn near favorable - at least there's not a trip to Cameron or Chapel Hill or anything.
Unfortunately, that comes next.
See, like any schedule, it'll have its ups and downs. And while I'm relatively happy with the first few games and think Maryland could surprise some people there, six of the first eight in total are against likely NCAA tournament teams, including road trips to UNC, Duke, and Florida State. Things could go downhill quick once you get to the meat of the schedule.
As I see it, though, there look to be two really critical stretches here. First is Feb. 2 to Feb. 10, when Maryland hosts Wake Forest (very winnable), visits Virginia Tech (winnable), and then hosts Virginia (tough but winnable). That's a momentum-building stretch, and while I'd prefer to run into State or Miami afterwards instead of Duke, it is a home game. And on a Saturday at that. If Maryland needs a marquee win on the resumé, a weekend game at home against Duke after a stretch of three wins (assuming they get them, which isn't guaranteed) will be their best shot to get it.
The other big stretch is Feb. 19 through to Mar. 2, during which Maryland visits Boston College, hosts Clemson, and then visits both Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. No gimmees in that stretch, but again, four very winnable games. If they can sweep through those four, that's another huge batch of momentum going into the final two games of the season - home against UNC (marquee win opportunity) and a road trip to Virginia (tough but winnable). If Maryland's still holding onto the bubble late, there's a decent shot they win five of their last six going into the ACC tournament, which would be a massive boost not only for momentum and cohesion but to their bubble hopes as well.
Of course, those only matter if you think Maryland has bubble hopes this year. They might, but then they might also be quite bad. If they are, the schedule probably doesn't matter too much. If they're bubble-good, well, there are seven ACC wins sitting in those two stretches right there, just waiting to be had.
Anyway, the home-and-home opponents this year: Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, Boston College, Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia. It's a fairly well-balanced group assuming VT, BC, and Wake Forest as bad as I hope they are. That was always going to happen with the new scheduling dynamic, I suppose, but still not bad news.
So, having seen the schedule now: what's your guess for the record? Hey, winner gets braggin' rights.