The Maryland basketball team is coming off a Sweet 16 appearance in last season’s NCAA Tournament.
On Thursday, the Terrapins released the Big Ten portion of their 2016-17 schedule. With the conference slate being announced, the complete slate for the season is known.
10 teams on Maryland’s schedule appeared in postseason play last season. Eight of those teams made the NCAA Tournament field.
The Terps will host Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue, and Rutgers within the confines of the Xfinity Center. This will be Maryland’s third season in the Big Ten.
After a fairly challenging nonconference slate, Maryland begins Big Ten play against Illinois at home on Dec. 27. The Fighting Illini return five of their top six scorers from a season ago.
Maryland rolled Illinois 81-55 on Senior Night this past March. The only question mark in that game was the Terps failing to slow down forward Maverick Morgan down low.
Morgan scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss.
Maryland should have a more efficient frontcourt from a defensive standpoint this coming season. Likely starters Damonte Dodd and L.G. Gill are hard-working bigs that should defend the rim to a high level.
The Terps have the potential to jump out to a 3-0 record in league plays. Maryland is plenty capable of knocking off Illinois, Michigan, and Nebraska.
The Wolverines probably pose the toughest challenge. This was a team that was crippled by injuries in the backcourt with Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert going down early on.
It’s the same host of talent in Ann Arbor with Zak Irvin, Duncan Robinson, and Derrick Walton Jr. leading the way. Michigan is coming off a 23-10 season, but they did lose eight Big Ten games.
One of the biggest benefits on next season’s schedule is the fact that Maryland faces Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue, and Wisconsin only once apiece. Games against Indiana, Michigan State, and Purdue will all be played at the Xfinity Center.
The Terps split with the Badgers and Boilermakers last season with Maryland winning the first meeting against both.
One of the biggest issues for Maryland during the 2015-16 season was inconsistent play down the stretch. The Terps dropped four of their final six regular season games heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
Over their final six games this coming season, Maryland will face the likes of Iowa, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. Michigan State and Wisconsin could be the top two teams in the Big Ten, so it’ll be a huge barometer of where Maryland is if they’re in contention for an NCAA Tournament berth.
A year ago, the Terps were supposed to be a team that was capable of making it to the Final Four. Obviously that didn’t happen, but this group could be extremely talented if they gel together fairly quickly.
With Melo Trimble back in the fold for another season, anything is possible for this Maryland team.