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Maryland basketball: breaking down the Terps' 2015-2016 schedule

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With the announcement on Thursday of the Big Ten Conference slate, we now have a full picture of Maryland's upcoming schedule, which is going to be challenging for the Terps.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

With preseason expectations that they'll begin the season as the nation's No. 1 team, Maryland will certainly have a schedule that will certainly provide them with the opportunity to demonstrate whether they're worthy of such a ranking.

With the Big Ten releasing their conference schedules for the upcoming season Thursday evening, we now have a full picture of Maryland's schedule for the upcoming season. From a non-conference perspective, Maryland will renew their rivalry with Georgetown, travel to Chapel Hill to face off against North Carolina in the B1G-ACC Challenge, and play Connecticut in Madison Square Garden. The hardest of those games is North Carolina, especially because it's on the road, who is expected to also be a  top five team this season.

Here is Maryland's full non-conference schedule:

Fri., Nov. 6 SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE (exh.)
Fri., Nov. 13 MOUNT SAINT MARY’S
Tues., Nov. 17 GEORGETOWN
Fri., Nov. 20 RIDER
Tues., Nov. 24 Illinois State (Cancun Challenge )
Wed., Nov. 25 TCU/Rhode Island (Cancun Challenge)
Sat., Nov. 28 CLEVELAND STATE
Tues., Dec. 1 at North Carolina
Fri., Dec. 4 ST. FRANCIS
Tues., Dec. 8 UCONN (Jimmy V Classic) at MSG
Sat., Dec. 12 MARYLAND EASTERN SHORE
Sat., Dec. 19 vs. Princeton (Royal Farms Arena)
Sun., Dec. 27 MARSHALL

Maryland's second season of Big Ten play begins on December 30th, when the Terps host Penn State. Mark Turgeon's squad must then hit the road to take on what should be an improved Northwestern team, before returning home to host Rutgers. But then things get a bit more challenging for Maryland.

Their next five games have them traveling to Wisconsin and Michigan, returning home to host Ohio State and Northwestern, and then traveling to Michigan State. That's a very tough stretch of games and things never really get easier for Maryland after that stretch. After hosting Iowa, Maryland has to travel to Ohio State and Nebraska before returning home to host Purdue and Wisconsin, with a random non-conference game against Bowie State between. Another very hard stretch against some of the league's best, most physical teams.

Maryland will then travel to Minnesota, host Michigan, hit the road to face Purdue, host Illinois, and finish up their season by making a trip to Indiana.

The five teams Maryland will face twice in conference play are all ones that could and should make the NCAA Tournament this season. Maryland will also only face Indiana on the road this year, making that game against the Hoosiers in Bloomington all the more important when it comes to the Big Ten title race.

While Maryland will begin the season as the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten, Indiana, Michigan State and Wisconsin are certainly more than capable of winning their share of games, too. The Terps are going to have to perform well and remain consistent if they want to capture their first Big Ten Conference title this year. But they'll have to face a Wisconsin team who wants to send Bo Ryan into the sunset with another championship, an extremely talented Indiana team, led by Yogi Ferrell, and a Michigan State team you can never count out, especially when March rolls around. Furthermore, most of the other teams in the Big Ten aren't a pushover, either.

Here is the full conference schedule, which includes the Bowie State non-conference game on February 9th.

Wed., Dec. 30 PENN STATE *
Sat., Jan. 2 at Northwestern *
Wed., Jan. 6 RUTGERS *
Sat., Jan. 9 at Wisconsin *
Tues., Jan. 12 at Michigan *
Sat., Jan. 16 OHIO STATE *
Tues., Jan. 19 NORTHWESTERN *
Sat., Jan. 23 at Michigan State *
Thurs., Jan. 28 IOWA *
Sun., Jan. 31 at Ohio State *
Wed., Feb. 3 at Nebraska *
Sat., Feb. 6 PURDUE *
Tues., Feb. 9 BOWIE STATE
Sat., Feb. 13 WISCONSIN *
Thurs., Feb. 18 at Minnesota *
Sun., Feb. 21 MICHIGAN *
Sat., Feb. 27 at Purdue *
Thurs., Mar. 3 ILLINOIS *
Sat./Sun., Mar. 5/6 at Indiana *
March 9-13 at Big Ten Tournament (Indianapolis, IN)

If Maryland wants to remain where the start before the season, they're going to have to beat a lot of very talented teams. They certainly have the talent on their roster to accomplish that, but they're going to need to be consistent and play their best night in and night out. It should be a fun year, with lots of exciting games.