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The Three Most Important Non-Conference Games For The Maryland Terrapins To Live Up To The Hype

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The Terps have an opportunity to do some damage on a national level.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

This season has the chance to be one for Maryland fans to remember. Featuring the return of All-Big Ten point guard Melo Trimble as well as the debut of true freshman center Diamond Stone, Mark Turgeon's team has the chance to win not only a conference title, but a national one as well. That's why ESPN ranked the Terps No.1 in its Top 25 Rankings earlier this month.

To prove the experts right heading into Big Ten play, Maryland will have to navigate a non-conference schedule that is littered with stiff competition. Here's a look at some of their top games on the non-con slate.

#1. Georgetown Hoyas

This matchup will be part of ESPN's annual Tip-Off Marathon and should be a great measuring stick for how both squads are playing after the way-too-long offseason. Both the Terps and Hoyas compete over many of the same recruits, but we don't see them share a basketball court too often, so this should be a treat.

Georgetown may be saying goodbye to Joshua Smith and Jabril Trawick this summer, but the team is expected to rebound thanks to the return of sharpshooter D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and young big man Isaac Copeland. Maryland has one game before this (against Mount Saint Mary's), but to many Terp fans, the Georgetown game marks the true start to the 2015-16 campaign.

#2. North Carolina Tar Heels

Maryland's showdown with the Tar Heels on the first day of December could be a showdown of epic proportions. That's because Carolina head coach Roy Williams has just as much, if not more returning talent than Turgeon does. Marcus Paige will be a senior this year and could battle with Trimble for the title of best amateur point guard in the country. Where the Heels will really challenge Maryland, though, will be in the froutcourt, where rising sophomore Justin Jackson, along with Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks will cause trouble for even the tallest opposing lineups. Plus, this is a road game for Maryland as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. If the Terrapins manage to pull off a victory in Chapel Hill, their hype train could gain some serious steam.

#3. Connecticut Huskies

The Huskies are coming off a disappointing campaign in which they missed the NCAA Tournament and fell in the first round of the NIT to Arizona State. When you also factor in the departure of senior guard Ryan Boatright, this game probably won't be as fun to watch as the other two we talked about. Still, UConn has a lot of young talent and could threaten for the upset in front of a partisan Madison Square Garden crowd (this game is part of the Jimmy V Classic on December 8). On the other hand, Maryland shouldn't underestimate the Huskies since they are the only marquee opponent after Carolina on the December slate.

Overall

This should be a challenging non-conference schedule for Maryland, but given their returning depth and talent, the Terps have a chance to turn this into an advantage and load up on quality wins before they even start conference play. Maryland fans are certainly anxious for the season to start and these three matchups will definitely add to that excitement level.