Also for the second-straight season, each of Maryland's exhibition and regular-season games are expected to be broadcast on live television, with at least 14 contests to be aired nationally.
"I think we play a competitive schedule, and our early schedule will help us prepare for the ACC regular season," said Terrapin head coach Gary Williams. "It will be interesting to see how our younger players accept the challenge of playing this level of competition."
Maryland adds a group of talented newcomers to a solid core of returners who helped the Terps to a 21-10 season in 2002-03 and a 10th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Terrapins, who made their seventh NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance since 1994 and finished the season ranked 10th in the final USA Today/ESPN coaches poll a season ago, mix their incoming freshman class with the likes of sophomore forward Nik Caner-Medley, senior center Jamar Smith and sophomore point guard John Gilchrist on a talented squad with limitless potential.
"This is our youngest team in probably four or five years, but that doesn't mean it can't be a good team," said Williams. "We have talented people who are ready to play. I think a lot will depend on how hard we are willing to work from the first day of practice right through until the end of the season."
Before the visit from American, with whom Williams began his head coaching career in 1978, the Terps will tune up with a pair of exhibition games. Maryland takes on the EA Sports All-Stars on Nov. 12 in Comcast Center, followed by a matchup with the Fayetteville squad from the NBA Development League on Nov. 18. Both exhibitions will be aired on Comcast SportsNet.
After contests against 2001 NCAA opponent George Mason and Hofstra in the midst of a four-game homestand to open the season, the Terps begin a challenging non-conference stretch with two-time defending regular-season Big Ten champion Wisconsin as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge (Dec. 2, ESPN2). The Terrapins take on the Badgers, who are tabbed as high as No. 16 in one preseason ranking, for the third time in four seasons.
Maryland faces preseason No. 13 Gonzaga in the first round of the 2003 BB&T Classic, meeting the Bulldogs on Saturday, Dec. 6 at MCI Center in Washington, D.C. West Virginia joins the Terps, Bulldogs and George Washington Colonials in the eighth annual event. The consolation and championship games are scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 7.
The Terps make their first official road trip of the season when they meet preseason No. 10 Florida at the Gators' O'Connell Center (Dec. 10, ESPN). It will mark Maryland's first ever trip to Gainesville after a hotly-contested matchup in College Park last season.
Maryland returns home for pre-Christmas tilts with Pepperdine (Dec. 14) and UNC Greensboro (Dec. 23) before beginning its Atlantic Coast Conference slate with a trip to Tallahassee to meet Florida State. The Terrapins face the Seminoles on Dec. 28 in a nationally televised game on FOX Sports Net.
The Terps then return to College Park for a three-game homestand, playing host to in-state squads Mount St. Mary's (Jan. 3) and Maryland-Eastern Shore (Jan. 6) before resuming their ACC schedule with North Carolina, Jan. 14 on ESPN.
In all, the Terrapins will play 15 games against teams that participated in postseason tournaments a year ago (NCAA - Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Florida, Duke, Wake Forest and NC State; NIT - North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia), making up more that half of Maryland's regular-season schedule. Additionally, Maryland plays seven games against teams ranked in ESPN analyst Dick Vitale's preseason "Sensational Sixteen," including No. 4 Duke (Jan. 21, Comcast Center, ESPN; Feb. 22, Cameron Indoor Stadium, CBS).
Maryland's final regular-season game of the year will be played against regional-rival Virginia in a FOX Sports Net Sunday night national telecast on March 7 at Comcast Center.
The Terrapins kick off the 2003-04 season with their annual Midnight Madness celebration, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 17 at Comcast Center.