Maryland draws Ohio State in Big Ten-ACC Challenge

Jason Miller

Given Maryland's acrimonious departure from the ACC, there was a general line of thought the conference probably wouldn't do them any favors when it came to scheduling, including perhaps lobbying for them to get an unglamorous Big Ten-ACC matchup. I don't know how much I ever bought that latter part. I suspected an Iowa rematch, perhaps, or maybe a mid-range team like Illinois or Minnesota.

But I know I certainly didn't expect this: the Terps will visit Ohio State for their installment of the series, a December 4th road trip to a team located in the top 10 or 15 of most early pundit rankings. They were an elite team last year and return the vast majority of their core, including Aaron Craft (easily hated but a quality point guard), although how they rebound from losing Deshaun Thomas, more or less their only real source of offense, is still unknown.

It isn't quite a perfect matchup, since in an ideal world Maryland would be hosting this game. Columbus still isn't the most imposing atmosphere, but beating a team that good on the road is going to be one heck of a task, whereas a home game would've made a true resumé win a real possibility. Still, the Challenge has done the Terps a real solid here in gifting them a marquee opponent, which will boost their non-con SoS and RPI rather substantially. Not to mention that it's a fun city for those looking to make the trip and is sure to be a game that's majorly watched, as opposed to last year's snoozer in Chicago.

The Buckeyes join George Washington, UConn, and some combination of the Paradise Jam field as the Terps' confirmed high-profile opposition. Per Alex Prewitt, they'll also host Tulsa over winter break, which is a clever decision: they're not likely to pose much of a threat, but they went 17-16 last year despite starting three freshmen. They'll improve, probably not enough to win that sort of game on the road, but they'll threaten in the C-USA. That's the type of game that doesn't really change anyone's mind about a team, but builds a more complete picture and does a lot more to help the SoS/RPI numbers than, say, hosting UMBC.

For my taste, given that the Paradise Jam field is unfavorable and unlikely to produce two quality opponents, perhaps not even producing one depending on how things break, there's still a need for one more high-quality opponent there in a home-and-home. They don't need to be top-15 material, but that schedule could do with one more resumé win opportunity, if possible. Especially because none of those premier games are actually at the Comcast Center.

Also, from that Prewitt tweet above: Maryland will do an international tour in August, like so many programs do. The location? ...the Bahamas, the homeland of none other than Shaquille Cleare. Pragmatic decision, perhaps something that was even hinted at during his recruitment (rumors have surrounded it enough). Maryland needs Cleare in trying to replace Len, and needs him to be focused and clear-headed. If this sort of thing helps, all the better to try it.

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