Big 10 Showdown: Bet Maryland -1.5 As Our NCAA Basketball Pick vs. Michigan

Willie Bee

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 12:05 PM GMT

An early showdown in the Big Ten is on Tuesday's NCAA basketball odds card as the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins travel to Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Maryland -1.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

As you'd expect this early in a conference long known for its depth of teams on the hardwood, it's a crowded race at the top of the Big Ten standings. Eight of the 14 teams are packed within two games of the lead, with one of three remaining unbeatens in league play headed to a tough venue to stay that way on Tuesday's action.

Off to a 4-0 start in the Big Ten, the Maryland Terrapins hit the conference highway for a third time this season with a trip to Ann Arbor to meet the Michigan Wolverines. The tip is being carried by ESPN a little past 9 PM (ET) at Crisler Center, and the NCAA basketball odds project a close contest with 5Dimes offering Maryland -1. Those bettors playing the scoreboard are looking at 140 for the total.

Last year's lone meeting was the first as conference rivals, and first since an ACC/Big Ten Challenge in December 2008. Maryland scored a 66-56 decision in College Park thanks to a 12-0 run to close the first half, Melo Trimble capping that spurt with a 3-pointer as part of his game-high 19 points.

The victory was the third in a row for the Terps over the Wolverines, and the final had just enough to cover a 10 point closing spread and not quite enough to send it past a 123½ point total. Totals have split 8-8 in Maryland games this season, with six of the last eight cashing 'under' tickets. Michigan has a 10-3 O/U mark so far, the last six hopping 'over' the totals.

 

Free Throw Shooting Among Terps' Strengths
With just the one loss about six weeks ago at North Carolina in this year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Maryland (15-1 straight up, 7-7-2 against the spread) held firm to the No. 3 slots on both of the latest polls released on Monday. ESPN's Joe Lunardi has the Terrapins as one of the four No. 1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament, joining them with Kansas, Oklahoma and Michigan State, which already has fans looking ahead to the January 23 clash in East Lansing between Maryland and the Spartans.

Mark Turgeon's troops have won nine in a row since the defeat against the Tar Heels, including their first two conference road tilts. The latest was this past Saturday at Wisconsin where Trimble's bomb from behind the arc with just over a tick left on the clock gave the Terps a 63-60 victory. The final pushed a closing 3 point spread on Maryland after the Terrapins had covered their previous two wins vs. Northwestern and Rutgers.

Trimble leads a quintet averaging in double-digits with a 14.8 PPG mark. Freshman Diamond Stone is next at 13.1 PPG, and has scored at least 10 in his last nine games. The Terrapins are in the top 15 nationally shooting nearly 76% from the free throw line, averaging about 15 points a game from the charity stripe.

 

LeVert Still Questionable For Maize & Blue
Michigan (12-4 SU, 9-5 ATS) saw its 6-game win streak stopped last Thursday at Purdue in an 87-70 loss to the Boilermakers. John Beilein's boys had been ripping the nets up during the streak, averaging nearly 86 points per game and shooting over 53% during the stretch, but a combination of cold shooting and tenacious Purdue defense put an end to that.

It also didn't help that the Wolverines were playing without guard Caris LeVert because of an injured left leg. The senior co-captain leads Michigan in scoring (17.6), rebounds (5.4) and assists (5.2), and is doubtful for Tuesday's tilt against Maryland.

I was expecting the spread to be around -3, maybe -4 on Maryland with LeVert out, and will gladly make my free NCAA basketball pick on the Terps at the lower number.