Illinois and Maryland square off in College Park tonight in an opening round game of the 13th Annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Tip-off is 7:30 PM ET on ESPN.

NCAA basketball odds boards opened with the Fighting Illinias -3 point favorites with total at 134. History is on the line for Illini head coach Bruce Weber who is one win away from his 200th victory in Champaign. No doubt a bottle of Champagne waits if his team can put away the Terps. 

Can Maryland spoil the night for Weber and Co. and defy the NCAA basketball betting lines? Lets break down this matchup and decide where we want to place our NCAA Basketball picks tonight.

Illinois (6-0 SU, 2-2 ATS) has played one of the softer preseasons schedules in the country which could explain them not being ranked in the Top 25 despite a perfect record. This will be their first road game after playing four times at home and twice on a neutral court.

Maryland TerrapinsIn their last outing, a 90-43 rout of Chicago State, the Illini held the Cougars to 34 percent shooting from the field and 20 percent from beyond the arc. The Illini hit 58 percent of their shots including 38 percent from downtown. Five players scored in double figures led by Myke Henry who had 15 points. Nnanna Egwu, D.J. Richardson and Meyers Leonard each added 11 points while Tyler Griffey added 10. Illinois won the rebounding battle (30-23) and forced 22 Chicago State turnovers.

Stopping Stoglin

The Terrapins (3-2 SU, 1-3 ATS) are coming off a 73-67 win over Florida Gulf Coast last Friday. Terrell Stoglin led the Terrapins with 24 points, giving him three games with at least 20 points in Maryland’s ?rst ?ve of the season. Stoglin leads the ACC in scoring at 20.2 points per game and is the only player in the league with a better than 20-point average coming into this week’s Challenge.

James Padgett scored 11 points in 15 minutes against the Eagles and added four rebounds, an assist and a steal. He’s third on the team in scoring (8.0 ppg) and second in rebounding (6.0 rpg) and leads the ACC with 4.2 offensive boards per game.

Sean Mosley also averages in double figures for the Terrapins, putting up 11.0 points per game. He has hit nine 3-pointers so far to lead the team, and is 9-for-19 (.474) behind the arc.


Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber is in his 9th year with the school and has compiled a 199-86 record. Weber already ranks third on the school's all-time coaching wins list behind Lou Henson (423 wins in 21 seasons) and Harry Combes (316 wins in 20 seasons). Weber is 1-2 lifetime against Maryland.

When he reaches the milestone, he’ll become just the third active Big Ten coach in the 200-win club, joining Michigan State's Tom Izzo (387 wins) and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan (248 wins in Madison). Overall Weber is in his 14th campaign with a mark of 302-140.

Mark Turgeon is the eighth head coach in Maryland Basketball history. Turgeon led his teams to at least 20 wins in seven of the last eight seasons, including a 24-9 mark last year at Texas A&M. His teams have advanced to postseason play eight times in the last nine years, including NCAA Tournament berths in ?ve of the last six seasons. His record in the last eight years is 183-84 (.685).

Series Record

The Terrapins have won six straight games in the series including last season’s 62-39 victory at Penn State. They’re 9-3 since the inception of the series with their last loss coming in 2004 to Illinois.

Maryland is 3-0 against Illinois in the Challenge, including wins in 2001, 2006 and 2007 and has won five of the eight overall meetings. However the Terrapins lost to Illinois in 80-76 in a matchup last season in the 2K Sports Classic bene?ting Coaches vs. Cancer.

*The ‘under’ is 6-1-1 in Illinois last eight games overall but they’ll be facing a Maryland team is riding a 10-4 ‘over’ streak.

*Maryland is 4-11 ATS in its last 15 at home but 7-2-1 vs. the number in its last 10 against the Big Ten.

*Stoglin has established himself as one of the premiere players in the ACC

* Neither team has established a pattern on offense or defense meaning it’s tough to nail down a totals play. Better to stick with the side.

*With that in mind, Illinois is deeper and has a more experienced starting five but Maryland’s got the home court advantage and that’s enough to get my vote.

My Pick: Take the points and the Terps.