Maryland's basketball schedule has been pretty well set for a few months now. One of the only big questions left: who were the Terrapins going to play in the annual local "tournament" that is the BB&T Classic? Notre Dame had been mentioned several times, and now it's been revealed that they will, indeed, officially, be the Terrapins' opponent. The game will go down on December 4, right after George Washington plays VCU in the undercard.
ND's a good opponent who'll bring a decent storyline to the game: Mike Brey is Hyattsville, and wanted/wasn't considered for/turned down/did something with the Maryland job when it opened up in the spring. More importantly, they should be in the NCAA tournament next year, although they aren't so powerful that an upset is unimaginable.
The Fighting Irish do lose Ben Hansbrough from last year's team, who was so consistently good and the architect of almost all of ND's big wins. Tyrone Nash, the 6-8 point forward, is gone as well. But Tim Abromaitis, who's averaged upwards of 15 points the last two seasons, is back,
as is Carleton Scott, who led the team in rebounding last year Looks like Scott declared for the draft and will play in Europe. Big hit there; looks like they'll be starting Jack Cooley in the post, which is akin to when Maryland had to start Dave Neal. Scott Martin may be an x-factor of sorts for the year: he averaged a hair under 10 points last year, and will be expected to take up a much larger role this year in the absence of Hansbrough.
Frankly, I find what ND gains to be more interesting. Their big fault last year was a lack of depth, leading them to take up the simultaneously fascinating and boring "burn." In addition to returning the three starters mentioned above, as well as sixth man Eric Atkins and bench player Jack Cooley, the Fighting Irish will take off Jerian Grant's redshirt and bring in top 150 forwards Pat Connaughtan and Eric Katenda.
As usual, the Irish will lack size and post presence, which shouldn't be a problem given that Maryland doesn't have any either. Both teams will be highly perimeter based this year, which means this game will either be a blast or a bear to watch, depending upon how hot the combined hands of Abromaitis, Martin, and Terrell Stoglin are. If the Terps catch the Irish on the right day (or are able to limit the sniper-like 43% outside shooting of Abro) and are hot themselves, they'll have a chance to pull the upset. ND didn't lose a lot of games last year, but the ones they did - blowouts at the hands of Marquette and St. John's, as well the tourney loss to Florida State - weren't pretty.
Also in the scheduling department: the ACC-Big Ten Challenge game times and network availability have been announced. The Terps will play Illinois - sadly, Jereme Richmond-less - on the first day of the Challenge, November 29, at 7:30 on ESPN. I'm not sure about how I feel about this year's team being on national TV, but what the hell: an upset here would be pretty sweet. And it's the undercard to the massive Ohio State-Duke matchup, which is must-watch TV in its own right.