Earlier this week, we took a look at the Maryland softball team's schedule. Today it's time to examine Maryland baseball's last season in the ACC. Before boarding that train, we'll make a stop for a brief review of last season.
The Terps finished fourth in 2013 in the Coastal Division winning eleven while losing nineteen in Coach John Czefc's first season at the helm (For newcomers, it's pronounced 'chef'). Though good enough for fourth in their division, Maryland's record placed them ninth overall in the conference allowing Miami at 14-16 to take the eighth and final spot in the conference tournament. Their overall record of 30-25 marked the first time in the program's history a Terrapin baseball team put together back to back thirty win seasons. The Terps were a competitive squad playing 20 one run games 15 of which came in ACC play. In those one run contests, Maryland posted nine wins and eleven losses overall and came up with a 6-9 record in conference play.
One problem the softball team faces that the baseball team will not is the strength of their opponents in conference games. ACC baseball is akin to ACC soccer or lacrosse in terms of conference strength. While neither Notre Dame (2013 RPI of 33) nor Pittsburgh (2013 RPI of 62) are powerhouse programs they are solid enough that their inclusion in the ACC shouldn't significantly dilute the brand. All eight teams that made the ACC Tournament in 2013 also made the NCAA Tournament and two of those reached the College World Series.
As they did last season when they traveled to Baton Rouge to face LSU, the Terps will open the season on the road against a solid SEC squad, the Florida Gators in Gainesville. The Terps will face the Rider Broncs in a Tuesday home opener on February 18. Their first home series is a four game weekend set with 2013 NCAA qualifier the Bryant Bulldogs. Other than Florida and Bryant, the only other NCAA qualifier on the Terps' non-conference schedule is in state rival Towson. The Terps will face the Tigers in two games at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen. Maryland has one other four game weekend set scheduled when they host the University of Massachusetts when February turns to March.
In conference play, Maryland will host the ACC's two CWS representatives, North Carolina and NC State. The remainder of the home conference schedule features Clemson, Georgia Tech, and ACC newcomer Notre Dame. The Terps will open their ACC season at Florida State and will also travel to Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Pittsburgh.
We'll take a more detailed look at the season prospectus at some future date but for now, it's fairly clear that the bottom line for reaching the NCAA Tournament is to finish in the top eight in the ACC and secure a berth in the ACC Tournament. To accomplish this, the Terps will need to fare better in one run games and will need to avoid upset losses to the weaker teams on their schedule.