College Basketball Picks of the Day, November 15th

Maryland terrapins

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 1:31 PM GMT

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 1:31 PM GMT

Our top college basketball picks of the day features a defense-first battle between Butler and a Melo Trimble-less Maryland, and No. 14 Minnesota hosting potential MAAC spoiler Niagara.

Butler vs Maryland

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Butler has a new head coach yet again with former player LaVall Jordan taking the reigns after Chris Holtmann bolted for Ohio State. It’s the program’s fourth different coach in the last six seasons. The Bulldogs also graduated six players from their Sweet 16 run a year ago, five from the backcourt alone. No problem for Jordan who served as a go-to recruiter at Michigan under John Beilein for six seasons, credited for the development of guards Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, and Zak Irvin. Nonetheless, the team is destined to regress with a recent media poll picking the Bulldogs to finish eighth in the Big East and a bubble-team prospect.

Maryland, meanwhile, is experiencing life without Melo Trimble. The star point guard led the Terps to a 75-25 SU record and three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Mark Turgeon fields an experienced bunch with eight of his top 10 players returning—though the majority is underclassmen. A trio of sophomores that combined for 96 starts last season is the core: NBA prospect Justin Jackson, Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan. Like Butler, most polls place the Terps middle of the pack in the Big Ten at the end of the year.

What can bettors expect tonight? Defense, defense, defense. Butler is allowing opponents to shoot 62.8 percent from the 3-point area through two games, ranking in the bottom 10 nationally. Cause for concern? Some, but not against Maryland. Firstly, that number is not sustainable, for any team. Even wide-open looks will begin to rim out and miss. Secondly, each of the Bulldogs first two opponents, Princeton and Kennesaw State., specialize from behind the arc. As for the Terps, the 3-pointer is not their go-to shot; their 16 attempts per game ranks 291st in the country.

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon runs a free-from offense, giving his players plenty of freedom on the scoring end. This could spell doom versus a Bulldogs defense holding opponents to a 2-point rate of 43.9 percent. Butler, meanwhile, doesn’t have a proven post scorer, and may struggle to field shots down low in half-court sets. 

Turgeon wants his group to execute defensively, and its often successful. Since taking over the program, the ‘under’ is 45-31 when Maryland tips off a favorite at College Park. That’s our pick for this Big East-Big Ten showdown.

Free NCAAB Pick: Under 147Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

Niagara vs #14 Minnesota

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The Gophers are coming off their first road victory over a Big East opponent since 1988 with a convincing 86-74 win at Providence Monday night. Big man Jordan Murphy put on a show, scoring 23 points and ripping down 14 boards. The junior earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors for his performance. Murphy could be in for another huge night against a thin Purple Eagles frontcourt that lacks a true center. Here’s a look at the big man slamming down a pair of his career-high 29 points in the season opener against USC Upstate:

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Get you a career high, Jordan!

Murphy's slam gives him 29, and @GopherMBB is in good shape in this one: pic.twitter.com/0Hybs7tX9m

— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) November 11, 2017
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Niagara is off to a surprising start, beating A10 favorites St. Bonaventure 77-75 at Reilly Center as 8.5-point underdogs in the season opener. The Purple Eagles have not won more than 10 games in each of the last four seasons. The reason: a lack of stability. Twenty-three players have left the program in the last 3.5 seasons, but this year is different. Fifth-year head coach Chris Casey returns a slew of veterans, including 88 percent of his scoring form last season. The backcourt is the team’s strength, highlighted by University of Southern California transfer Kahlil Dukes. A recent coaches poll picked the Purple Eagles to finish fifth in the MAAC, but Casey believes this bunch will contend for the conference championship. Agreed.

In the last decade, 14 ranked Big Ten teams have tipped off against MAAC opponents. They are 13-1 SU and 4-10 ATS, failing to cover a -13.6 average line by 3.4 points per game. Only two have won by 19 points or more straight up. The line is a tad too steep here with Niagara much improved and Minnesota still reveling in its big road victory. Take the points with Niagara, but hold out for the best number at one of these top-rated online sportsbooks. Oddsmakers opened the Gophers 19-point favorites, the line adjusting to -20 in early trading. 

Free NCAAB Pick: Niagara +20Best Line Offered: at Heritage
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