Maryland basketball is back in the Gavitt Games for next season and will face a familiar face when they take on Villanova, as first reported by Jon Rothstein.
That means Hakim Hart, a former three-year starter in College Park who just graduated from Maryland on Monday, will now get the unique opportunity to play against his former team and head coach Kevin Willard.
As for Maryland, it will be the first matchup against Villanova since 2011 when the Wildcats pulled out a 74-66 win to give Villanova a 4-1 all-time series lead. The matchup against Villanova also marks the first time since 2017 that Maryland has squared off in the Gavitt Games with the Terps one of two teams to remain undefeated in the midseason conference crossover.
The latest nonconference matchup adds to Maryland’s growingly tough non-conference schedule as Maryland is already scheduled to travel to UCLA on December 22 in the second matchup of a home-and-home series, while they’re set to take part in the Asheville Championship alongside Clemson, Davidson and UAB. Though at times head coach Kevin Willard has been critical of the Big Ten’s scheduling, the matchup against Villanova is the latest marquee game for a program that’s sorely missed the notable games outside of conference play.
“I’m very strategic with my scheduling,” Willard said in the spring. “Every year, it’s not as hard as everybody thinks it is.”
After returning Justin Moore and plucking Hart and Kentucky forward Lance Ware from the portal this offseason, second-year head coach Kyle Neptune will look to get Villanova back on track after losing in the first round of the NIT to finish 17-17 in 2022-23.
Other matchups in this year’s Gavitt Games include Xavier at Purdue, Michigan at St. John’s, Iowa at Creighton, Marquette at Illinois, Butler at Michigan State, Georgetown at Rutgers and Wisconsin at Providence.
Maryland is set to take a summer training trip to Italy beginning July 31 with the team set for three exhibition games across four cities during a ten-day trip.