With the release of the Terps' basketball schedule Thursday evening, we got our first look at what Maryland will be facing in their inaugural B1G season. Can the get back to the Big Dance? We take a detailed look and try to answer that question.
The non-conference portion of Maryland's schedule, which features 13 games, seems to be a good balance of tune-up games and quality opponents. The two biggest highlights of the non-conference portion of the schedule are hosting Virginia in the B1G-ACC Challenge on Wednesday, December 3rd, and participating in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic on November 24th and 25th, where they'll face Arizona State and then the winner or loser of the Iowa State-Alabama game.
Head coach Mark Turgeon and his staff will have several opportunities to tinker with their starting line up and bench rotation during two early exhibition games against San Francisco State and Bowie State before officially tipping off the season on November 14th against Wagner in College Park. Maryland will then host Central Connecticut State and Fordham the rest of the week before taking a four day break leading up to the CBE Hall of Fame Classic..
Following the CBE Classic, Maryland will have two more tune-up games, against Monmouth and VMI, before hosting Virginia in the B1G-ACC Challenge on December 3rd in what could be the most anticipated game in College Park this season.
After hosting former ACC rival Virginia, Maryland will host Winthrop, NC Central and USC Upstate before venturing out on the road for a match up with a good Oklahoma State team December 21st. Oklahoma State will make a return trip to College Park in the 2016-2017 season. The Cowboys are a familiar opponent for head coach Mark Turgeon, who went 5-3 against the Cowboys during his tenure in the Big 12 while coaching at Texas A&M.
After a five day holiday break, Maryland plays their final non-conference game of the regular season when they host Oakland on Saturday, December 27th.
Maryland's first B1G conference schedule will feature some intriguing games in both College Park and on the road, starting with their first B1G conference game, a road match-up with Michigan State. We all know why that game is significant...
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Hopefully Maryland can avenge that horrible, no good and very bad last second loss to MSU.
Maryland will host their first B1G conference game on January 3rd, when the Minnesota Golden Gophers visit College Park. Following that game, they'll hit the road for consecutive road games against Illinois and Purdue before returning home to take on Rutgers and Michigan State.
After hosting the Spartans, the Terps will alternate road and home games during their next seven match ups: traveling to Indiana (Hi, Hoosiers!); hosting Northwestern (would be shocked if Mike Wilbon wasn't in attendance for this); taking on Ohio State in Columbus, hosting Penn State, traveling to Iowa, hosting Indiana (great opportunity to make Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter, Chris Wilcox, Steve Blake, and Byron Mouton honorary captains), and traveling to Penn State.
Maryland then has a very challenging but exciting three game home stand when they host Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan before wrapping up the regular season on the road at Rutgers and at Nebraska. Those three home games could end up being vital in Maryland's quest to return to the NCAA tournament this season.
Overall, this seems to be a great schedule for Maryland. Having a very young team, they get to ease into their first test of the season against Arizona State. They have two other barometer games to measure where they are as a team in their match ups against Virginia and at Oklahoma State and should enter conference play with, at worst, a 10-3 record. If everything goes smoothly, they could very well be 12-1 or possibly 13-0 when they travel to East Lancing on December 30th.
Maryland will have a few tough stretches in conference play this year that could really determine whether this team is solidly in the NCAA tournament, on the bubble, or off the bubble. The first is from January 17th-29th, when they host Michigan State, travel to Indiana, host Northwestern and travel to Ohio State. Northwestern and Indiana both missed the NCAA Tournament last year, but those games surrounded by arguably the B1G's best teams in Michigan State and Ohio State. If Maryland wants to get back to the big dance, going 3-1 during this stretch of games would do a lot to get them there.
The other key stretch in conference play occurs during Maryland final three B1G home games of the season, when they host consecutive games against Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan. That stretch features three teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year, including Michigan's run to the Elite Eight and Wisconsin's run to the Final Four. Those three games will give Maryland a great opportunity to strengthen their résumé, especially since all three are at home. But facing three quality opponents consecutively, even on your home court, is always challenging.
This schedule provides a number of opportunities for Mark Turgeon to develop the best rotation for his team, while still providing some key match ups with quality opponents before embarking on their first B1G season. Their conference schedule certainly will have it's challenges, but still present the opportunity for Maryland to put itself in a position to make their first NCAA Tournament since Mark Turgeon took over the program.
What do you think about the schedule? What games are you most looking forward to?