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Potential opponents for Maryland in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge

Who could the Terps face this fall? We take a look at some possible matchups.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, ESPN's Andz Katz gave us the first meaningful speculation about the potential matchups in next season's B1G-ACC Challenge. According to Katz, a formal announcement of the pairings for the event will likely be made in the coming weeks. While nothing is yet official, Katz shared information about the event's potential top pairings, one of which included Maryland facing off against North Carolina.

So who are the most likely opponents for Maryland in the challenge this year?

North Carolina

Why it makes sense

On Tuesday, Katz mentioned two potential games that could happen in this year's event -- Maryland vs. UNC and Indiana vs. Duke. Given that Katz works for ESPN, the entity who televises the event, one would think he has pretty reliable sources about the potential matchups. Looking beyond Katz's speculation, a game against North Carolina makes sense for a number of reasons. First and foremost, It would likely feature a showdown between two preseason top-5 teams. Many believe UNC could start the year at No. 1 in the polls, while Maryland has been a consensus top-5 preseason selection following the addition of 5-star center Diamond Stone and return of guard Melo Trimble and forward Jake Layman. If the Terps were to land former Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon, Maryland could begin the year atop the polls and a game against the Tar Heels would potentially be a showdown of the nation's top two teams. The matchup would also give ESPN a great storyline for the game, with Maryland's Mark Turgeon once again facing off against the coach he served as an assistant under at Kansas, Roy Williams.

Why it doesn't make sense

While a matchup between UNC and Maryland would almost definitely do well in the ratings, could a Maryland-Duke pairing do even better? The Terrapins and Blue Devils had a stretch over a few years in the late 90s and early 2000s where their games against each other were some of the most anticipated matchups of the season. Maryland is entering the 2015 season with the highest expectations it's had since 2002, while Duke has reloaded following its national title run. Could that Maryland-Duke rematch outweigh a game against Carolina?


Why it makes sense

As we just said, games between Maryland and Duke generated a lot of interest when the Terps were among the best in college basketball. From a ratings perspective, the Final Four semi-final game between Maryland and Duke in 2001 was the 8th highest ratings game in all of college basketball between 2000-09, according to Sports Media Watch. If Maryland begins the season in the top 5, potentially as high as No. 1, you'd think a rekindling of the rivalry with Duke would generate a lot of buzz and eyeballs. And if Sulaimon ends up in College Park and Maryland traveled to Durham for the game, ESPN would go crazy with that narrative and hype leading up to the game.

Why it doesn't make sense

Michael William Krzyzewski. Coach K was rather vocal about his desire to not schedule a game against Maryland once the school announced plans to leave the ACC and join the Big Ten. While the game would be extremely compelling and desirable for ESPN, one would assume that Krzyzewski, Duke and the ACC would do everything in their power to prevent this game from happening. It is probably safe to assume that as long as Coach K is the head coach at Duke, they'll do everything in their power to not play against Maryland.


Why it makes sense

While Maryland faced Virginia in last year's event, Maryland's first as a member of the Big Ten, a rematch between the two schools is certainly a possibility next season. There are no rules about two teams facing each other in consecutive years, which has happened most recently in 2013, when Illinois and Georgia Tech played in consecutive challenges.

Virginia was one of Maryland's rivals during its time as a member of the ACC, despite the Terrapins dominating the overall series between the two schools. With Virginia again expected to be a top 10 team next season, a rematch of last year's event could generate a lot of interest while providing ESPN with a DMV showdown storyline.

Why it doesn't make sense

If you had your choice of pairing North Carolina, Duke or Virginia against Maryland, the Cavs would be a distant third in terms of desirability. While Tony Bennett has built UVA into a great program, a game against Virginia just doesn't have the same appeal as a top 5 showdown against UNC or a rekindling of the Duke-Maryland series.

Who do you think Maryland will face? Vote in our poll below.