Toughest non-conference games for Maryland basketball


Nov 8, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Maryland Terrapins guard/forward Dez Wells (32) at the net during the second half against the Connecticut Huskies at Barclays Center. Connecticut Huskies won 78-77. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, Maryland basketball released their 2015-2016 non-conference schedule. As Maryland’s program is being closely watched this year as a national championship contender, there are three games which stand out for the Terrapins before Big Ten Conference play begins: Georgetown, North Carolina, and Connecticut.

During the inaugural Gavitt Games, Maryland will host Georgetown on November 17 in College Park. There is much excitement surrounding this DMV matchup, and will be the first time the two teams have competed in over 40 years. Last season, the Hoyas were 22-11, and 12-6 in the Big East. They were a fourth seed in the NCAA tournament, like Maryland, and advanced to the second round, losing to Utah.

Coach John Thompson III welcomes Jessie Govan, a freshman center who is the backbone of their recruiting class. Govan, an ESPN 100 player, will likely give Maryland’s Damonte Dodd and Diamond Stone some trouble on both sides of the ball. With the return of D’Vauntes Smith Rivera, a solid front court, and the 26th ranked recruiting class, the Hoyas will remain a force to be reckoned with.

Also, Maryland will tangle with former ACC rival North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on December 1. Maryland and North Carolina have faced off for 91 years, and Maryland has won 57 times out of 122 meetings. Last season, the Tar Heels were 26-12, and 11-7 in the ACC. During the NCAA Tournament, the fourth seed advanced to the Sweet 16, where they lost to Wisconsin.

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In the basketball powerhouse conference of the ACC, North Carolina is considered an early favorite. North Carolina’s star player Marcus Paige will be returning this season, in addition to numerous players who could become breakout stars, such as Kenny Williams and Justin Jackson. If the Tar Heels can improve perimeter shooting, and returning players can continue to get better, Maryland will be forced to play a very deep and talented team.

If Georgetown and North Carolina were not enough of a challenge, Maryland will travel to New York City’s Madison Square Garden to face Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic on December 8. Following their 2014 national title, UConn had a mediocre season last year. As members of the AAC, Connecticut only went 10-8 in conference, made it to the NIT, and lost in the first round to Arizona State.

However, Connecticut looks to be far from mediocre this year. With the return of Rodney Purvis, and addition of transfers Sterling Gibbs and Shonn Miller, Connecticut will rebuild offensively. Also, a player such as Jalen Adams, who is versatile in the guard position, will pose an interesting matchup for Melo Trimble.

Now we anxiously await the basketball season, where the Terps have a competitive non-conference schedule. As matchups against Connecticut, Georgetown, and North Carolina  could be risky, they could also prove to be huge tests if the program is going to go deep into March.

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