COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland’s season-opening exhibition was a victory over Southern New Hampshire, the alma mater of assistant coach Bino Ranson. Now the Terrapins will open the regular season against the alma mater of another assistant, Cliff Warren, when Mount St. Mary’s comes to XFINITY Center in College Park on Friday night.
The Mountaineers, two years removed from an NCAA tournament berth, will be mentioned among the favorites to win the Northeast Conference title.
“We hope they start 0-1, but we feel like they’re going to win a lot of games,” head coach Mark Turgeon said during a meeting with the media on Thursday. “I’ve got a lot of respect for their program and the way they do things and they’re well-coached.”
That’s part of the key for Maryland in scheduling The Mount, not only because they are an in-state team, but also because when push comes to shove on Selection Sunday the teams that have beaten quality teams early often get rewarded by the committee.
Should Maryland beat The Mount handily? Absolutely. But the difference between beating a mid-major conference title contender and a cellar-dwelling small school will show in their RPI and strength of schedule at tournament time.
One victory over a mid-major won't necessarily move the needle, but scheduling that way as a philosophy makes a difference. Maryland wants a No. 1 seed, but that comes much, much farther down the road. For now, it’s the start of a season that holds much promise and hopes of a Final Four run.
“We’ve been waiting for a long time, especially somebody like me who had to sit out last year,” junior Robert Carter said. “Just want to get out there and get things underway.”