Even though college football is kicking off this weekend, it's never too early to look forward to college basketball, and the Maryland Terrapins season in particular.
About two weeks ago the Terps schedule came out, and while the team is rebuilding, with a new coach and the loss of a few top players, there are still a few things to take away from the Terps schedule.
The following slides contain five things to take away from Maryland's schedule. As always, feel free to comment below with what games you are most looking forward to, which games scare you the most and which games are going to be a snoozefest.
While most teams like to have a few warm-up games before playing some of their tougher non-conference opponents, the Terps open up this season with only an exhibition against Northwood and a home game against UNC Wilmington before heading to Puerto Rico to take on a bunch of BCS schools.
The Terps take on an Alabama team on the upswing before either taking on Wichita State or Colorado. The other teams in the tournament are Purdue, Iona, Western Michigan and Temple.
Maryland is projecting to actually be one of the bottom-half teams in this tournament, and this should be a great test early on to see just how bad, or maybe surprisingly good, this season will be.
If anyone thinks Maryland is going to be able to come back from Puerto Rico and recoup before starting up the ACC slate, they are dead wrong, as their two hardest non-conference tests await their return.
First the Terps will take on Illinois in the ACC/ Big Ten challenge. Fortunately the game is in College Park, so the Terrapins will at least have a home court advantage.
Five days later the Terps take on Notre Dame in the BB&T classic at the Verizon Center, which, despite being a virtual home game, will be a very difficult test.
If the Terps can win one of these two games that could go a long way, as these will be a taste of what ACC play is going to be like.
It is not completely out of the realm of possibility to imagine the Terps will be 2-5 when December 7th rolls around.
This makes the month of December very important for the Terps, as they have five games in a row that are very winnable and would get them back in a positive swing going into the ACC.
The good thing is, these are all home games. Maryland welcomes Mount St. Mary's, Florida International, Radford, Albany and Samford to end 2011.
The game to be most worried about among this group is probably Albany, but if the Terrapins want to have a winning record at the end of the season they can't afford to lose any of them.
If there is any saving grace to the Terps schedule it is that they avoid Duke and North Carolina in the first quarter of their schedule, giving them a chance to get their footing.
Instead they take on some of the weaker teams in the ACC, in North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Florida State.
Many think Maryland will be one of the worst teams in the ACC, and these games are virtually must-wins if they want any chance at a postseason bid.
If the Terps don't come out of this stretch 3-1 or better, fans should be very worried for what is to come in the remainder of the season.
North Carolina and Duke are both predicted to be top-five teams this season, and that means they will be the toughest tests by far on Maryland's schedule.
The Terps have home and home against both, which means four games that would be shockers if they won. I think any Maryland fan would be happy with a 1-3 record in those four games.
We have all seen Maryland play up to the level of its opponent, so don't be surprised if they put up a fight.
Or course these games are still half a year away, and a lot can change, but right now these games should be highlighted as the best times for Maryland fans to see future National Champions.