- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Maryland men’s basketball team will open its Big Ten slate against Rutgers on Dec. 14 and will face Purdue on Christmas Day, among other highlights from the 20-game schedule released Wednesday.

The Terrapins avoid home-and-home matchups with two of the best teams in the league — No. 5 Iowa and No. 8 Illinois. Coach Mark Turgeon’s squad will face No. 7 Wisconsin twice this season, though. Those three squads are the favorites to win conference, although there are four other ranked foes Maryland will see in 2020-21.

After opening the campaign against the No. 24 Scarlet Knights, the Terrapins conclude their nonconference schedule with a matchup against La Salle on Dec. 22. Then it’s on to the Boilermakers on Christmas Day.

From there, Maryland faces the Badgers for the first time — a Dec. 28 matchup in Madison — before hosting No. 25 Michigan on Dec. 31 and traveling to Indiana on Jan. 4.

Then comes what appears to be the Terrapins’ hardest two-game span this season, welcoming the Hawkeyes and reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Luka Garza to College Park on Jan. 7. Three days later, Maryland travels to play Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, the Fighting Illini’s dominant duo.

In the official unofficial preseason Big Ten media poll, compiled by Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch and Brendan Quinn of The Athletic, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin were selected to occupy the top places. Garza was the heavy favorite to win the Player of the Year award for the second time, but Dosunmu picked up some votes, too.

So that stretch — between Wisconsin on Dec. 28 and Illinois on Jan. 10 — could go a long way in showing how Turgeon’s team has meshed. The Terrapins lost Jalen Smith and Anthony Cowan, their top two scorers from last season, and have newcomers in the frontcourt who will play a significant role.

In the official unofficial media poll, Maryland was predicted to finish 10th. The team is coming off a strong 2019-20 campaign in which they secured a share of the Big Ten regular season title.

After that gauntlet, a Jan. 16 matchup with Nebraska eases the Terrapins into consecutive road games against Michigan and Minnesota on Jan. 19 and 23, respectively. Then comes the second contest against the Badgers on Jan. 30.

Purdue, Penn State and No. 23 Ohio State follow in a seven-day span to open February, before Maryland faces Minnesota, Nebraska and Rutgers for a second time each.

To close out the campaign, No. 13 Michigan State — facing plenty of roster turnover of its own — visits Xfinity Center on Feb. 28. The Terrapins then travel to Northwestern ahead of their season finale against Penn State on March 7.

There are plenty of unknowns heading into the campaign, be it related to the coronavirus pandemic or how Maryland will fare on the court without two of its most pivotal pieces from the year prior. But some answers will begin to appear when the Terrapins open the campaign Nov. 25 against Old Dominion, part of their buildup to the conference slate.

Full Big Ten Schedule

Rutgers (12/14)

Purdue (12/25)

Wisconsin (12/28)

Michigan (12/31)

Indiana (1/4)

Iowa (1/7)

Illinois (1/10)

Nebraska (1/16)

Michigan (1/19)

Minnesota (1/23)

Wisconsin (1/30)

Purdue (2/2)

Penn State (2/5 or 2/6)

Ohio State (2/8 or 2/9)

Minnesota (2/14)

Nebraska (2/17)

Rutgers (2/21)

Michigan State (2/28)

Northwestern (3/3)

Penn State (3/7)


• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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