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A closer look at Maryland's men's basketball schedule

Thinking about Maryland’s upcoming basketball season, I can’t help but reflect back to March, when I sat courtside in Spokane, Wash., and watched a three-pointer hang in the air as the buzzer sounded. It’s difficult not to think that, had the shot not fallen, Maryland could have won two more games to set up a national semifinal matchup with Butler. The Terrapins would have had their hands full against Butler’s defense, but Maryland had one of the most impressive players in the field playing his best. Because of how the tournament unfolded, it was not implausible to imagine a Maryland-Duke final. And Maryland had already beaten Duke during the regular season, of course. Aah, there is no point in rehashing it ... let's move on.

On to this year’s team. Sophomore big man Jordan Williams is the cornerstone of the program now and has a chance to be a first-team all-ACC performer this season. Junior Sean Mosley provides the grit and all-around play that should define this year’s team. The real key, in my view, is whether seniors Cliff Tucker, Adrian Bowie and Dino Gregory can show improvement, steady leadership and consistency. That remains to be seen.

Looking at the league, it is very strong at the very top, with Duke in prime position, with the additions of Seth Curry and Kyrie Irving (one of my favorites), to have a chance to repeat as national champions. I don’t buy the hype that North Carolina is the second-best team in the ACC. The second-best team in the league will be Virginia Tech, which returns its top 10 scorers from a team that would have made the NCAA tournament if not for a weak nonconference schedule. North Carolina, Florida State and North Carolina State should follow in the standings. After that, Maryland will compete with the likes of Clemson and Miami in the middle of the pack. I think Maryland will ultimately fall on the good side of the NCAA tournament bubble and make the 68-team field.

I like the nonconference schedule. You have opportunities to possibly earn attention-grabbing victories against Pittsburgh and Villanova (won’t be easy). With four starters back, Pittsburgh is my choice for Big East champ, and Villanova, which still has Corey Fisher, should finish among the top three in the league, along with Syracuse. Maryland plays Pittsburgh at MSG on Nov. 18, and at Villanova on Jan. 15. The key game, in my mind, is the second game of that New York trip, when Maryland faces Texas or Illinois. Both teams underwhelmed last season, and both should be improved. Illinois has some size that Maryland would have to deal with. Texas has a freshman big man, Tristan Thompson, whom I really liked to watch during AAU events.

Temple, a favorite again in the Atlantic 10, offers an intriguing contest, and the Jordan Williams-Lavoy Allen matchup will be one to watch. This is a good game in the BB&T Classic on Dec. 5.

Maryland visits Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 1. The Nittany Lions don’t offer much of a home-court advantage, but diminutive guard Talor Battle can play. This is an experienced team that should finish in the middle of the pack in the Big 10. A true road victory like this in nonconference play could stand out on Maryland’s resume come March.

There are some dog games against inferior opponents, much like there are on everyone’s schedule. But don’t laugh at the NJIT game just yet. Two years ago, the Highlanders won one game. Last season, they won 10. This season, they return almost everyone. Maryland will win, but it won’t be a replay of the football’s team demolition of Morgan State on Saturday.

The toughest stretch on the schedule comes in mid-January. Maryland plays at Duke on the 9th, then at Wake Forest on the 12th, then at Villanova on the 15th, then home to Virginia Tech on the 20th. A 2-2 split during that stretch would be impressive. I know, Wake Forest could be the worst team in the ACC – and not because of coaching – but it is a road game and those other matchups are brutal lumped together.

The most intriguing game to me is the second game in New York City. What game are you most interested in watching?

By Eric Prisbell  |  September 14, 2010; 9:09 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Thoughts on West Virginia football fans in Morgantown

Comments

Eric, it's another year on the dreaded "bubble."

But the Koolaid drinkers will say that's okay because last year was such a huge success. You mean we weren't in the final against Duke? We didn't beat Butler in the semis? Oh, that's right, we didn't even make the Sweet 16 for the 7th straight year!

But the new AD, he will make sure that we are on budget.

By the way, can't believe you failed to mention the concerns we all should have about the point guard position.

Posted by: petecard | September 14, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Yes, petecard, we came in last place last year. Oh, that's right, we were ACC co-champions.

Nobody's saying that that was good enough. Or that we can take the next few years off. Schmuck.

And Bowie will have every chance to prove himself as a starter at point. But we also have two pretty good PGs joining next year in Stoglin and Howard. Lots of (non-Maryland) people are predicting one of them to be an impact player in the conference by the end of the season.

Posted by: ICBomber | September 14, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

The x-factor. I've now seen him play twice wih other MD players. Big Berend. An efficient shot-blocking machine with deft hands AND the ability to finish despite his Juco stats. We are big...finally. JW, BW, JP and (a hopefully healthy) AP. We will win rebounding battles consistently this year as which will be marked difference from the previous seasons. We will cause match-up problems with everyone (except Duke). We will have depth at guard and even at the 3 with MP and SM.

I don't buy the bubble projection - we'll be in the top 3 in the ACC and in contention for the ACC title.

Yes we lost a great one in GV. But the reason we did not advance was tepid rebounding (ok NO f*ing rebounding) which was our Achilles Heel against premier opponents. Not anymore. LM was never a front-tier 4 and was thusly abused in the paint. I don't question his heart or effort, he was forced to play out of position. Maybe it was what was needed given last year's team, but barring a major injury to one of our 4 bigs, I think we win 25+ games.

Come tourney time, I suspect we'll get to the Sweet 16; beyond that is always a crap shoot when you root for MD. I wish it wasn't and I am hoping GW & co prove me wrong.

BW showed up for a pick up game and walked out with a scholarship to drive home and get a message from Coach-K-the-rat-face that Duke would like him too. Better than Bias getting the hometown obligatory scholarship from Lefty for community relations purposes. Saw him execute a few McHale over and under moves effortlessly. And our opponents will not be prepared for him early in the season.

No, I don't think the Hawk is going to contribute substantially this season....and I am slowly accepting the fact that neither SG or JB will be with the team this year (JB being the bigger loss of big men who never play).

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | September 14, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"Eric, it's another year on the dreaded bubble. But the Koolaid drinkers will say that's okay because last year was such a huge success."

IF the terps ever were to sneak in the tourney as one of the last bubble teams and then go on to advance to the Final Four, I can guarantee you that a certain terp insider commenter whose name rhymes with 'retard' will come on here and say that we shouldn't have even been in the tourney and the final four appearance shouldn't have happened.

The guy is an absolute moron people and doesn't know how to take any pleasure whatsoever out of sports. It's never good enough, no matter what his team achieves. ACC championships, Final Fours, a National Championship rin...none of it is ever enough. Never.

Just ignore this total loser and self-proclaimed yankees fan who hasn't stepped foot in College Park in decades and wouldn't know what the inside of Comcast Center looked like to save his life...we'll all be better off.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 14, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

petecard is the Eeyore of the Terrapins Insider.

Posted by: ecglotfelty | September 14, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't know barno, Pete definitely was swung by the run of great wins prior to the Duke win. he laid out the end of the schedule and showed what he thought would be success and the team made it. And posted accordingly. Walking through the remaining schedule of games after each successive key win was a huge part of the entertainment from last season. We got to watch everyone get excited, even early season nay-sayers.

I am completely looking forward to it happening again this season with the ridiculously low expectations - bubbling in??? That is not going to happen. At this point, I will be shocked if we don't finish at least 4th overall in the conference.

I think the fact that he is a Yankee fan is more questionable, but need to understand more. Pete - who is your pro football team? Pro BB? Hockey? Nascar? Any other college teams?

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | September 14, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey Hugh, I agree that Peteyboy was swung after big wins last year, as any true fairweather fan does from time to time, and seemed to admit on a few occasions that he was wrong about hoping GV would go pro early and wrong about Gary needing to go. But then we lose on a flukey buzzer beater in the tourney to a good team that goes on to the Final Four, and all Petecard does is come back the next year and rip "koolaid" fans again and mock the program. The guy sucks. And as nice of a guy as you seem to be, I really wish you wouldn't defend him and his antics. In my book, he is no Maryland fan.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 14, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey Barno,

Please understand that I would defend you and your right to speak your mind regardless of your opinion. That said, I'm not going to go after either of you when folks are piling on. You both are fans of the team in my book. Both of you have been on the receiving end of Wapo message board beatings (I actually stopped looking at RI after the personal attacks went way out of control). But your opinions both matter. Look, the guy is a Terp and is obsessed with this team on the same level we are; he would not be on this board posting as oftenotherwise. Whether inflaming the board (as clearly the message above is doing successfully) is part of his intent or not does not matter; he is a Terp at heart.

Yankees fans are the worst. They just don't get that on even a relatively even playing field, you may not get the results wanted....because MLB is not even close to an even playing field. I guess the only time I speak up is when I see people telling him to go away. This board would be a lot less interesting without him. AND IF YOU COULD SAVE HIS POST FROM TODAY TO RE_POST it after a big win january or so I would really appreciate it.

As much as some folks hate the reposting of prior statements, I actually get a kick out of it when you guys get rolling. The Terps will have some big wins this year. What we lost in a star, we gained in size and speed. And we'll need someone like Petecard to remind of prior negative statements.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | September 14, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

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