The Maryland basketball team announced their complete 2017-18 schedule on Wednesday.
Despite a weak nonconference schedule, the Terrapins’ Big Ten slate isn’t going to be easy in the early going.
Maryland begins Big Ten play on Dec. 1 when they host Purdue. Just two days later, the Terps hit the road to face Illinois in Champaign.
The Boilermakers did lose star big man Caleb Swanigan to the NBA, but there’s still plenty of talent on the roster. Center Isaac Haas (12.6 points & 5.0 rebounds), guard Vince Edwards (12.6 points), and guard Carsen Edwards (10.3 points) all return, which should make Purdue one of the favorites to win the Big Ten.
On the other hand, Illinois put together their second winning campaign in the past three seasons. However, the Fighting Illini lost four of their five leading scorers from last year.
Forward Leron Black returns after averaging 8.1 points and 6.3 rebounds a season ago.
On Dec. 7, Maryland returns to their nonconference schedule for the remainder of the month. The Terps host the likes of Ohio University, Gardner Webb, Catholic, Fairleigh Dickinson, and UMBC.
Maryland gets back to Big Ten play on Jan. 2 when they host Penn State. The Nittany Lions topped the Terps 70-64 in last season’s matchup in which freshman forward Lamar Stevens went off for 25 points.
Over the next five days, Maryland will play three times against Penn State at home, Michigan State on the road, and at home against Iowa.
Much like Purdue, Michigan State returns a ton of talent from last year’s roster. Star forward Miles Bridges passed onto most likely being a lottery pick in the NBA Draft and is back to lead the Spartans.
In addition, forward Nick Ward also is back after averaging 13.9 points and 6.5 rebounds as a freshman.
Following an away game against Ohio State on Jan. 11, the Terps will encounter a brutal six-game stretch. Maryland will face Michigan, Indiana, and Purdue on the road while they’ll host Minnesota, Michigan State, and Wisconsin.
This stretch could make or break Maryland’s season or at least go a long way in determining their NCAA Tournament seed. During the 2016-17 season, the Terps went 5-3 against those six teams a season ago.
The Terps do end Big Ten play with a relatively easy stretch. Maryland faces Northwestern, Rutgers, and Michigan at home while traveling to Nebraska and Northwestern to end the regular season.
Maryland definitely doesn’t have an easy slate once Big Ten play begins. The beginning and middle of the schedule doesn’t do the Terps any favors and could leave the team vulnerable to several upsets.
However, it could leave Maryland battle-tested for when the NCAA Tournament rolls around. If the Terps can put together a similar mark to last season, they could be poised to make a deep run once postseason play gets underway.