Fresh off a national championship, the South Carolina women's basketball team's non-conference schedule is loaded with heavy competition.
The Gamecocks will play two teams in the Top 13 USA Today Coaches Poll, Maryland and No. 12 Duke, with the possibility of playing No. 5 Notre Dame in the Gulf Coast Showcase before the conference schedule begins.
The tests begin right away as the Gamecocks travel to College Park to face Maryland in their second game of the year on Nov. 13. Maryland went 30-2 in the last regular season, losing to Connecticut by six at home and to No. 12 Ohio State by 11 on the road. Maryland went on to win the Big Ten and was a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament before bowing out to Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen.
Maryland lost talent to the WNBA draft and from players who transferred out of the program. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough,who averaged 18.8 points last year, was drafted sixth overall, and Brionna Jones who averaged 19.9 points and 10.9 rebounds a game last year was drafted two picks later. Maryland's Destiny Slocum, who averaged 11.5 points and six assists per game, announced her transfer to Oregon State via Twitter on May 1.
With the transfer of Slocum, Maryland will have its fourth different starting point guard in four years. True freshman Channise Lewis was the No. 55 recruit according to ESPN, but the Terps are projected to finish second in the Big Ten this season.
Maryland is also known for playing fast up and down the court. For the Gamecocks to win, they'll need to find a way to slow the Terps down and make them play in a half-court offense.
The Terps worked during the preseason to fix the kinks in their game when they helped represent the United States at the World University Games in Taipei. They showed well, and finished in fifth place.
Last season, the Gamecocks held their opponents to an average of just under 60 points a game and scored just over 76 points a game. Maryland was somewhat a turnover heavy team last season with more than 500 turnovers.On the other hand, South Carolina totaled 471 while playing three more games than the Terps.
While the Terps somewhat struggled at keeping the ball, they were exceptional at creating turnovers, averaging 10.9 steals per game last year. South Carolina only averaged 8.5 last season.
For the Gamecocks to come out on top in their first tough test of the season, they will need to take care of the ball and force a young Maryland team to play in a half-court offense in what is expected to be a good crowd at Xfinity Center on Nov. 13.