Some have questioned Maryland's non-conference schedule during Mark Turgeon's first six years for being top-heavy with overmatched opponents at home in College Park.
The same can't be said about the 2017-18 non-conference schedule, which was released Monday.
Not only do the Terps open away from home for the first time since playing Connecticut at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 2013-14 — albeit against Stony Brook at the Nassau Coliseum on Nov. 10 — four of the first seven games will either be on the road or in neutral settings.
More significantly, the overall strength of Maryland's non-conference schedule is markedly improved over last season (at least based on their opponents' final RPI) and could also be one of the team's more competitive November and December slates since Turgeon took over.
The Terps will play five teams that finished last season ranked in the top 100, led by Butler (No. 12 overall) in the third annual Gavitt Games. The Bulldogs will visit Xfinity Center on Nov. 15, in College Park. Maryland will play Bucknell (No. 66) three days later.
Maryland will play two more Top 100 opponents at the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, Fla., over Thanksgiving weekend. The Terps will face St. Bonaventure (No. 91) in the opening round on Nov. 24 and either Texas Christian (No. 51) or New Mexico (No. 87) the following night.
In one of the more challenging stretches of the season, Maryland will then play at Syracuse (No. 85) two nights later at the Carrier Dome.
The bottom half of Maryland's non-conference schedule also appears to be a tad more competitive as well.
A year ago, the Terps played just five teams ranked in the top 150 the previous season; this season, Maryland will face seven in the top 150. A year ago, Turgeon's team played five teams ranked 200 and below, including two ranked 300 and below. This year, it's two teams below 200 and only one under 300.
The overall non-conference schedule, which this year will be intermingled in early December with Maryland's first two Big Ten games, might have to do with Turgeon's quiet confidence in the team he returns this season compared to the one he had coming back a year ago.
A year ago, the Terps had lost four starters from Maryland's first Sweet 16 team since 2003 and returned just then junior guard Melo Trimble and part-time starter Damonte Dodd, a senior. Turgeon also knew that three freshmen — Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan — would play significant roles.
Despite losing Trimble, the team's leading scorer in each of his three years, the Terps return the three sophomores who started all but the two games Jackson came off the bench at the beginning of the season and bring in a freshman, power foward Bruno Fernando, who is expected to start.