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Turgeon says schedule will provide early tests

Mark Turgeon's first season as Maryland men's basketball coach will feature a nonconference schedule challenging enough to offer a reliable early indication of how good the Terps are nationally.

"With a loaded Puerto Rico Tip-Off plus Illinois, Notre Dame and Temple, we should have a solid RPI heading into league play," Turgeon said in a news release after the schedule was announced Wednesday.

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Maryland's nonconference schedule includes Alabama, Temple (for the second year in a row, but this time at Philadelphia's Palestra), Notre Dame and Illinois (also a repeat opponent).

Maryland was 19-14 last season, missing the postseason, before coach Gary Williams retired. Maryland is expected to be a guard-oriented team after the departure of center Jordan Williams, the Atlantic Coast Conference's leading rebounder, to the NBA after his sophomore season.

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In recent years, Maryland has opened the season with long homestands during November and December against clearly beatable schools. That stretch has traditionally been interrupted by a November tournament against top national foes – an early-season test.

That scheduling pattern is evident again in 2011-12 as Maryland plays an exhibition against Northwood on Nov. 4 before opening at Comcast Center against UNC-Wilmington on Nov. 13. Then the competition accelerates as the Terps face three games, beginning with Alabama on Nov. 17, in a tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Maryland's games against ACC tournament champion Duke are Jan. 25 at Comcast Center and Feb. 11 in Durham, N.C.

The Terps play two games against North Carolina this season – last season there was only one meeting with the Tar Heels. The games are Feb. 4 in College Park and Feb. 29 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Terps open conference play at N.C. State on Jan. 8.

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