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Maryland women’s basketball schedule will have plenty of challenges

Maryland guard Ashley Owusu is one of five starters back for the Terrapins. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

The Maryland women’s basketball team is expected to contend for the national championship in the 2021-22 season after fielding the nation’s top offensive team last season and returning all five starters and its top eight scorers. Those expectations will be tested with a schedule that appears to be challenging throughout.

The Terrapins open against Big South Conference representative Longwood at home Nov. 9 before hosting their first major conference opponent in Villanova on Nov. 12.

Things really begin to pick up Nov. 21 when Baylor travels to College Park. The Bears were ranked 10th in the NCAA’s preseason power 10 rankings despite losing Coach Kim Mulkey, DiDi Richards and DiJonai Carrington. Former Atlanta Dream coach Nicki Collen has taken over the program.

That’s the start of three straight games against those power 10 teams as Maryland heads to the Bahamas for Thanksgiving weekend. The Terps face No. 5 N.C. State, the back-to-back ACC champion and a No. 1 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, on Thanksgiving Day. They then take on reigning national champion Stanford on Nov. 27. The No. 3 Cardinal returns 12 of 13 players, including NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Haley Jones.

Maryland men’s basketball releases 2021-22 schedule

The Miami Hurricanes are the opponent in this season’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge game, which Maryland will host Dec. 2.

Big Ten play begins on the road against Rutgers on Dec. 5, but the difficult nonconference slate isn’t done yet. Maryland heads south to play South Carolina, the No. 1 team in the power 10 ranking, on Dec. 12. South Carolina Coach Dawn Staley is coming off a gold medal-winning effort at the helm of Team USA at the Olympics and has brought in the No. 1 recruiting class, according to ESPN.

A road contest against Coppin State on Dec. 21 is the final nonconference game before it’s all Big Ten play leading into the conference tournament. Maryland will play Indiana on the road Jan. 2 and at home in the regular season finale Feb. 25 or 26. The Hoosiers are eighth in the power 10 after advancing to the Elite Eight and eliminating N.C. State.

Iowa is ninth in the power 10 and returns Caitlin Clark, the nation’s leader in assists and points per game. The Hawkeyes, who lost to Maryland in the Big Ten title game and in a regular season shootout, host the Terps on Feb. 14.

A pair of games against Michigan, at home Jan. 16 and in Ann Arbor on Feb. 20, will feature reigning Big Ten player of the year Naz Hillmon. The Terrapins also face Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers both at home and on the road.

Brands are taking notice of female college athletes. Now let’s move beyond their sex appeal.

Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin will play a single game against Maryland in College Park. The Terps will face Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State and Minnesota on the road.

The 2022 Big Ten women’s basketball tournament is set to begin in Indianapolis on March 2. The first round of the NCAA tournament is scheduled for March 18.

The Terrapins finished last season 26-3 and led the nation with 90.8 points per game. Maryland was upset by Texas in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament and brings back all-Big Ten first-team performers Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller and 2020 No. 2 overall recruit Angel Reese. Associated Press all-American honorable mention Katie Benzan also returns after leading the nation in three-point shooting at 50 percent.

Maryland women’s basketball schedule

Nov. 9: Longwood

Nov. 12: Villanova

Nov. 14: at James Madison

Nov. 16: Mount St. Mary’s

Nov. 18: UNC Wilmington

Nov. 21: Baylor

Nov. 25: N.C. State (in the Bahamas)

Nov. 27: Stanford (in the Bahamas)

Dec. 2: Miami (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

Dec. 5: at Rutgers

Dec. 8: Purdue

Dec. 12: at South Carolina

Dec. 21: at Coppin State

Dec. 30: at Illinois

Jan. 2: at Indiana

Jan. 6: Penn State

Jan. 9: at Minnesota

Jan. 16: Michigan

Jan. 20: at Ohio State

Jan. 23: Northwestern

Jan. 27: Rutgers

Jan. 30: at Penn State

Feb. 3: at Michigan State

Feb. 6: Nebraska

Feb. 9: Wisconsin

Feb. 14: at Iowa

Feb. 17: Ohio State

Feb. 20: at Michigan

Feb. 25: Indiana

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