Free NCAA Basketball Picks: Add Penn State & 'Under' vs. Maryland

Darin Zank

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 2:07 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015 2:07 PM UTC

Maryland is the preseason betting favorite to win the Big 10, and a big favorite to win its Big 10 opener Wednesday evening at home against Penn State. Do we give the points in this spot, or take 'em?


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NCAA Basketball Picks: Penn State +15 & UNDER 136
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


The Odds
The NCAA basketball odds market opened its betting on this game with Maryland favored by 16 points, the total posted at 136. Both those numbers were holding steady in the early action.


The Match-Up
Maryland (11-1 SU ,5-7 ATS) rides a five-game winning streak into this week, after downing Marshall Sunday 87-67. The Terps only led the Herd by 10 points at the half, but pulled away from there, at one point leading by 27. However, they took their foot off the gas late and came up a bucket short of covering the spread as 22-point favorites.

On the day Maryland shot 52 percent from the field, hit 13-of-27 shots from beyond the arc, and held Marshall to just 35 percent shooting.

Eleven days ago the Terps beat Princeton 82-61, shooting 56 percent, covering at -13.

Bigger-picture, Maryland isn't just the favorite to win the Big 10, it ranks among the favorites to win the whole damn thing this season.

Penn State (9-4 SU, 6-5 ATS), meanwhile, has won seven of its last nine games, including a 75-69 decision over Kent State in Las Vegas one week ago. The Lions trailed by 10 in the first half, led by five at the half, trailed by six midway through the second half but used a 14-2 run to take control, eventually winning outright as one-point underdogs.

On the night Penn State shot 49 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Flashes 40-29. The Lions might have won by a more comfortable margin, had they shot a little better than just 14-for-25 from the free-throw line.

One day before that, in that same Las Vegas tournament, Penn State lost to an 11-2 Colorado team 71-70, covering at +6.

Bigger-picture, after losing three starters from last season, including leading scorer DJ Newbill, we're figuring the Lions for a bottom-four finish in the Big Ten again this season.


Recent History
These two programs don't have much of a history, but they're now conference rivals, so they're developing one. Last year Maryland swept two games from Penn State, but both games were close. First, the Terps beat the Lions 64-58 in College Park, but Penn State covered at +8. Ten days later Maryland nipped the Lions in Happy Valley 76-73, taking that game outright as a one-point underdog.

That first meeting played UNDER a total of 131, while the second meeting played OVER 127.


Totals Trends
Penn State is 6-6 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as Lions games have averaged 133 points.

Maryland is 7-4 on the OVERS, as Terps games have averaged 144 points.


Final Analysis
Maryland is probably going to win this game; the final margin is all that matters. The Terps can throw it in the hole like few other teams in college basketball, and their last three victories have come by 21, 21 and 20 points. However, Penn State can play a little defense, and is actually more balanced on offense than it was last year, after losing one-man band Newbill. Also, the spread on this game is probably inflated toward the home team by at least three or four points. So we like the Lions plus the points for our NCAA basketball picks in this spot. Also, both these teams shot the ball very well last time out, but we're dubious as to whether they can shoot like that again next time out. So we're thinking UNDER.

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