The Terps will have a tough April and May.
Maryland released its 2013 schedule yesterday. Let's get right to it.
April and May Hoedown
April 5: @ Navy; April 13: Johns Hopkins; April 20: Yale; April 26 and 28: Cockamamie ACC Tournament; May 4: Colgate
That's a hell of a way to end the regular season to prepare for a May adventure. It's not like Maryland hasn't traveled this road before -- back-loading the schedule becomes a function of necessity with where the ACC "Tournament" falls every season -- but this year the Terrapins' slate looks somewhat more foreboding: A dangerous Navy squad (which is coming off a major year of improvement in 2012 compared to 2011) starts the month of April and could pose a difficult challenge for Tillman's team; Johns Hopkins should sit among the nation's top five throughout the year (not to mention that Terps-Jays remains arguably the best rivalry in Division I, which creates all kinds of different challenges and issues); Yale has all kinds of questions entering the spring, but this is still a team that should sit around the top third to top half of the country in terms of performance; and Colgate -- ripe with Peter Baum, Ryan Walsh, and a host of other running mercenaries that, in totem, are a top 10 team -- will pose a really tough test at the end of the year when legs are tired and the focus may be shifting toward the NCAA Tournament rather than finishing the regular season drill.
If you're going to get shot out of a cannon, it may as well be the biggest cannon at the circus.
A Bag of Halloween Candy
February 12: Mount St. Mary's; February 16: @ Hartford; February 23: @ Loyola; March 6: UMBC; March 10: Stony Brook; March 16: @ Villanova
The rest of Maryland's non-conference schedule is a bit of a mixed bag. It's not as if the Terrapins needed to really load up this portion of the schedule as: (1) Maryland is going to win plenty of games as it is, which should keep them squarely in the NCAA Tournament conversation; and (2) There's otherwise enough strength of schedule on the slate between Maryland's ACC dates -- both regular season and fake tournament -- and its marquee out-of-conference games against Hopkins, Loyola, and Colgate. Otherwise:
- The big revenge game against UMBC -- the Retrievers beat the Terps last year in what was the biggest upset of 2012 -- could get ugly quick if UMBC can't protect its face. I don't envision any kind of letdown from Maryland on that Wednesday night, even if the Retrievers are competitively decent in 2013.
- Assuming nothing skull-crushing happens in the early part of the year, a 1-2 Loyola-Maryland matchup is sure to happen at Ridley. That's not just a circle-the-calendar-with-a-Sharpie type of game; that's getting a good seat at the stadium right now to make sure that you don't miss what could be a landscape-defining type of game in 2013. Also: Prepare yourself for a nausea-inducing level of duplicated storyline pushing from the media for this one -- title game rematch; Jesse Bernhardt and Scott Ratliff ("Who's the bestest?"); Battle for Maryland; and on and on and on.
- There's some sneaky quality kicking around in this cohort. Villanova is going to be defensively vulnerable in 2013, but the offense should be a muted smoke show; the Wildcats will challenge the Terrapins. Stony Brook and Mount St. Mary's are quietly toward the top of their respective leagues -- America East and NEC -- and while they'll both be decided underdogs against Maryland, the Terps did lose to UMBC last year. These should be wins for Maryland, but weird stuff likes to be weird stuff.
March 2: @ Duke; March 23: North Carolina; March 30: @ Virginia
This won't be the last time that Maryland needs to navigate ACC waters -- that comes next season, a year in which "Sayonara!" may meet one-last-grenade-into-the-bunker -- but this season for the Terrapins won't be without bad feelings: Maryland is off to the Big Ten, and you can believe that Duke, Virginia, and Carolina are going to want to put a hurt on their former friend to prove that the ACC -- or, rather, what it will become after the additions of Syracuse and Notre Dame -- is the strongest lacrosse incubator in the country. These ACC games are always played with super intensity -- as if Greg McBride and Kevin Cooper smashing their fists against each other last year weren't enough to prove that point -- and Maryland's penultimate campaign through the league may raise the level of these games even more.
And, if you care, here's John Tillman's record against ACC foes in ACC play (includes cockamamie league tournament; excludes NCAA Tournament play):
- Duke: 2-2
- North Carolina: 1-2
- Virginia: 1-1