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Maryland Basketball draw a favorable schedule for the upcoming season

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You’re only as good as your opponent is bad. So how does the slate of games for the Terrapins play out this year?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Maryland vs Hawaii Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Maryland Terrapins managed to disappoint their fan base last season even though they won 27 games and made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Expectations were high. Rising guard Melo Trimble led a team that seemed to underachieve as it continued to win. Trimble himself wasn’t immune as his season hardly left a positive feeling as he decided to forgo the NBA Draft and return for a third go-around in College Park.

As a sophomore, Trimble posted a nearly identical usage rate to his freshman season, but saw his production collapse just about across the board. He posted a worse offensive rating and a worse defensive rating while his points per game and field-goal percentage plummeted. While he was a solid three-point shooter as a freshman, he was a liability from deep as a sophomore.

Now for the 2016-17 season, there will simultaneously be a lot more pressure on Trimble and a lot less help around him. If Terrapins fans were left wanting more from last season, they could be sorely disappointed in how this year transpires if Trimble doesn’t turn into the star everyone thought he would.

Gone are four starters from last season: Diamond Stone, Robert Carter, Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon. Talent still remains around Trimble, but the Big Ten conference takes no prisoners. He and the new starters will have to acclimate quickly to one of the deepest conferences in the country.

Preseason ESPN polls rank Maryland 22nd in the nation. The CBS poll leaves Maryland out of its top 26 (yes, 26) entirely. We would have to imagine it would be in the honorable mentions portion if one existed, but it isn’t unreasonable to want to see more from Maryland this year before anointing it as one of the better teams around. Locals, though, aren’t worried by the preseason disrespect. And maybe they shouldn’t be with the way the Terrapins’ 2016-17 regular season shakes out.

According to a quick composite of preseason predictions, the best handful of teams in the Big Ten this year is expected to be made up of Wisconsin, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, and Michigan in some order (with possible interlopers around fourth and fifth). Of those five consensus good teams, the Maryland Terrapins play zero of them twice.

That’s right, Maryland makes it through the entire Big Ten schedule this year without playing any of the five best teams more than once. It also gets three of those five opponents (Indiana, Purdue and Michigan State) at home. This is quite a boon for the Terps. Even if few experts think of them as one of the five best teams in the conference heading into the season, simple schedule luck could place them in the discussion by season’s end.

Here are the five opponents Maryland does play twice this season: Illinois, Iowa, Rutgers, Minnesota, and Ohio State. Though opinions vary a bit on Ohio State’s and Illinois’ respective ceilings, there is no debating the benefits of this crop of games. Namely, Rutgers and Minnesota are probably the worst two teams the conference has to offer and they make up four games, or 22 percent, of Maryland’s Big Ten schedule this year.

Trimble will have considerably less help than he did a season ago. The guys who departed through graduation and into the NBA were extremely talented players. However, what’s left is still a good group of guys led by Jared Nickens, Damonte Dodd and a number of four-star recruits. Combined with the fortunate schedule, Maryland is set to overachieve this season, stemming from folks not really believing it will be as good of a season compared to recent success.

There is no better motivator than disrespect and no more valuable cog to success than luck.