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Breaking down Maryland men’s basketball’s nonconference schedule

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The Terps will face a few quality nonconference teams.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 12 Big Ten Tournament - Maryland v Michigan Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Maryland men’s basketball is back in action this week.

The Terps will have their first and only exhibition match against Fayetteville State on Friday night in College Park and then the season gets underway just four days later. Maryland will face a total of 11 nonconference opponents in 2021-22.

Let’s take a look at who the Terps will take on outside of the Big Ten.

Quinnipiac (Nov. 9)

Maryland’s first game of the regular season will come against Quinnipiac next Tuesday night. The Bobcats are coming off a 9-13 overall record from last season with just a 7-10 record in conference play within the MAAC.

Maryland will be the toughest team that Quinnipiac faces all season, but the Bobcats are bringing back a fair amount of talent to their roster ahead of the season. Graduate student Jacob Rigoni, who led the Bobcats a year ago with 11.8 points per game on around 36% shooting from the field, was recently named to the Preseason All-MAAC Second Team.

Quinnipiac is also welcoming back graduate student Kevin Marfo who was also a player named to the Preseason All-MAAC Second Team. Marfo played at Quinnipiac just two seasons ago and saw the court in 17 games for Texas A&M in 2020-21. Even though Quinnipiac isn’t the strongest program, it has some tools to compete with a team like Maryland.

George Washington (Nov. 11)

The George Washington Colonials had a rough season last year. The program finished with just five wins in 17 games, along with a 3-5 conference record. To make matters worse for George Washington, the team has lost a few of its key players entering the new season.

The Colonials are coming into the 2021-22 campaign without three of their top-five scorers from a season ago. Forward Jamison Battle, forward Matthew Moyer and guard Jameer Nelson Jr. are not listed on the program’s roster. That’s a cumulative 35 points per game from last season that is departing from the team and George Washington has plenty of questions heading into the season.

Junior guard James Bishop and former Maryland forward Ricky Lindo Jr. are the two biggest returners to the roster. Bishop averaged a team-high 19.1 points per game and Lindo chipped in with 11.4 points per game last season. Despite those two coming back, it’ll be an uphill battle for the Colonials this season with a fairly thin roster.

Vermont (Nov. 13)

Vermont saw a fair amount of success during its 2020-21 season, compiling a 10-5 record, with all 10 wins coming in conference play. The Catamounts were a solid offensive team last season, averaging 73 points per game on 46.3% team shooting from the floor.

A big reason as to why the offense was successful was due to the efforts from returners Ryan Davis, Ben Shungu and Justin Mazzulla. Davis, an experienced senior forward, was easily the most lethal scorer on this roster a season ago. The 6-foot-8 Davis averaged a team-best 18.5 points per contest and recorded another team-high with 6.3 rebounds per game. His return to the program is critical for Vermont and he’ll likely be the centerpiece on both ends of the floor once again.

A significant subtraction from this roster, though, is guard Stef Smith who was one of three players on the team to average double-digit points per game. It should be another successful season for the Catamounts and they should find themselves near the top of the America East Conference once again in 2021-22.

George Mason (Nov. 17)

The George Mason Patriots claimed 13 wins in 22 games last year, finishing in the middle of the pack within the Atlantic 10. With an 8-6 conference record, the Patriots beat out teams like Dayton and Richmond last season to close out a decent season for the program.

The absence of former star player Jordan Miller will certainly put a dent in the team’s progress, though. Miller transferred to Miami in April after averaging 16 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in the 2020-21 season. His departure leaves a huge void to fill for the Patriots, not to mention that the No. 2 and No. 3 scorers on the team last year are also not listed on the roster anymore.

Junior Josh Oduro is the next likely candidate to lead this team in scoring after he totaled nearly 10 points per game last season. Overall, George Mason is a pretty depleted team that Maryland should be able to take care of with ease in the middle of November.

Hofstra (Nov. 19)

Maryland’s five-game homestand to kick off the season will end with a meeting with Hofstra. The Pride won a good amount of games last season, compiling a record of 13-10 and a 7-3 record at home. Hofstra did have some struggles on the road and won just five of its 11 games in enemy territory.

Graduate student Jalen Ray is the most talented returning player to the Pride. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 19.3 points in 37.2 minutes per game in 2020-21, both of which led the Pride. Ray’s efficiency is solid on both ends of the floor as he also had 39 steals by the end of the season. The other player on the roster had more than 28 steals, for comparison.

Hofstra made it to the semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Championship last season before falling to Elon, and it will look to give Maryland a challenge when it comes to College Park.

Richmond (Nov. 25)

Maryland will face Richmond in the opening round of the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship. The Spiders were one of the more top-heavy teams in all of college basketball, with five players averaging 12 points or more and then a major drop-off with the rest of the roster. After the top-five scorers, the next best scorer averaged just 4.8 points per game last season.

Luckily for the Spiders, four of the program’s top-five scorers are returning for the upcoming season in what should be a push towards a spot in the NCAA Tournament after finishing 14-9 in the program’s latest campaign. Forward Grant Golden will be the most important returning piece for this team. He averaged 12.7 points and six rebounds per game in 2020-21. Other than Golden, Jacob Gilyard, Nathan Cayo and Tyler Burton are all back for the Spiders.

The only thorn in the side of the Spiders entering the season is the impending absence of Blake Francis, who led the team with 16.1 points per game and started in all 20 games last year.

Louisville or Mississippi State (Nov. 27)

In the next round of the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship, Maryland will face either Louisville or Mississippi State. Starting off with the former, Louisville ended with a 13-7 record in what was a fairly disappointing season for a program that had plenty of high hopes.

Louisville projects to be around the top-50 programs in the nation once again with the talent it still has on the roster entering this season. The departure of Carlik Jones (16.8 points per game in 2020-21) should have a big negative impact on the ceiling of the Cardinals moving forward, however.

Then looking at Mississippi State, Maryland may face another solid team that went 18-15 a year ago. Mississippi State took down teams like Georgia, Missouri and Florida. The program is expected to another step in the right direction this season and the addition of Michigan State’s Rockett Watts should provide this team a big boost in 2021-22.

Virginia Tech (Dec. 1)

Similar to Mississippi State, Virginia Tech is near Maryland talent-wise and it will play the Terps for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge game. The Hokies received votes in the AP Top 25 Preseason Poll and it wouldn't be too shocking to see them make their way inside the rankings early on in the season.

Virginia Tech finished the 2020-21 season with a 15-7 overall record and a top-three spot in the ACC after claiming nine conference victories in 13 games. The program is returning its top player, forward Keve Aluma, who averaged a team-high 15.2 points per game a season ago, along with another team-best average of 7.9 rebounds per game.

Even with the second-best scoring threat in Tyrece Radford leaving the program via the transfer portal after last season, the returns of Nahiem Alleyne and Justyn Mutts should bolster the starting lineup. Virginia Tech will be a team to keep an eye on before it takes on Maryland on the first day of December.

Florida (Dec. 12)

Maryland will then take on the Florida Gators in the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational, which will happen at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Led by head Mike White, Florida worked its way to a 9-7 record in the SEC and an overall record of 15-10 to finish in the top half of the conference last season.

Senior forwards Colin Castleton and Keyontae Johnson are returning for the Gators this season, and their usage should only increase this season. Johnson was neck-and-neck with the team’s departed scoring leader, Tre Mann, as he averaged 16 points per game, while Castleton was third on the team in 2020-21 with 12.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

It may not be the strongest team that Florida has had in recent years, but it’s a roster that is worth monitoring throughout the season before Maryland takes it on in mid-December.

Loyola (Dec. 28)

One of Maryland’s last nonconference matchups will come against a Loyola team that managed just six total wins in the 2020-21 season. The Greyhounds captured just one conference win last year as well, and they project to be one of the weaker teams Maryland will play against this season.

And with leading scorer Santi Aldama leaving the program, things will get even tougher for Loyola. Aldama averaged 21.2 points per game for Loyola last season and was easily the team’s most effective offensive weapon. Fortunately for the Greyhounds, senior guard Jaylin Andrews is returning to the program after collecting 11.6 points per game in his junior year.

Loyola is expected to be in the bottom half of the Patriot League again, and this could be a matchup that Maryland takes advantage of late in its nonconference slate.

Brown (Dec. 30)

Maryland’s final nonconference meeting of the season will come against Brown right around New Year’s Eve. Brown didn’t play a single game last season due to the Ivy League shutting down operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bears have just six players on the current roster that were on the team back during the 2019-20 season. David Mitchell, Dan Friday, Josh Watts, Jaylan Gainey, Perry Cowan and Tamenang Choh are the returners for Brown entering next season.

Brown went 15-12 in the most recent season it played and Choh is presumably the best player on the team for 2021-22. Choh averaged the second-most points on the Bears two seasons ago, collecting 13.2 points per game over the course of 27 starts. Brown will look to be a strong team within the conference, and even though it might not give much of a tough challenge to Maryland, it remains to be seen how good this team is coming into the year.