Free NCAA Basketball Picks: Michigan State To Get Back In Track Against Maryland

Charles Stark

Saturday, January 23, 2016 1:58 PM GMT

I'm not sure what all the panic is about when it comes to Michigan State. Sure they have lost three games in a row but their last two games by just two points combined. No worries!

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Michigan State -3.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

NCAA basketball odds makers have made Michigan State a -3.5 favorite with the total around 140.5. Tonight they face a Maryland team that is talented but in my opinion just a bit overrated. Michigan State has struggled recently but I expect those struggles to end tonight and for them to dominate this game from the opening tip.  For my selection I will lay the points for the Spartans to give a maximum effort.

 

Maryland Terrapins
Maryland is averaging 78.1 point per game while shooting 51% from the field, and allowing 63.6 points per game on 40.7% shooting from the field. On the season they are 9-10 against the spread overall and a good 5-3 on the road. Head coach Mark Turgeon has a really talented squad led by Melo Trimble but so far on the year they haven't faced a lot of really stiff competition, especially on the road. This has made some of their statistics a bit inflated but still pretty impressive for the most part. Offensively they control tempo only putting up 54.2 field goal attempts per game which ranks in the bottom of NCAA hoops. However, they have been really efficient ranking third and fourth in shooting efficiency and effective field-goal percentage respectively. They also rank fifth in the country in overall shooting percentage and second in the country in two point shooting percentage at 59.1% per contest. I believe tonight though they will be facing the toughest defense they have seen so far this season. Defensively Maryland has been good statistically, but I think a lot of that has to do with the tempo they control. Still, they rank 20th in the country and opponent shooting efficiency, 17th in opponent assist per game, and 19th in opponent total rebounds for game. This a well coached talented team, and it will be interesting to see how they react facing arguably the best team they have seen this season on the road.

 

Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State is averaging 78.5 points per game while shooting 48.3% from the field, and allowing 63.2 points per game on 37.4% shooting from the field. Against the spread they have been pretty close to 50% going 10-9 overall and 5-4 at home. Their recent struggles has been well documented, but I think people are starting to make comments that are really overblown. Sure, they lost to Iowa at home which was ugly, but they just got their best player back from injury and Iowa is extremely good and couldn't miss a shot. As well, they have lost their last two games, making it three losses in a row, but one of those games was at Wisconsin which is never an easy place to play, and then to a decent Nebraska team, it happens. It has definitely been a tough stretch but these are college players and sometimes teams have to go through some growing pains. My assumption is that with a coach as good as Tom Izzo this will only make the Spartans that much tougher come March, and I think tonight they are prepared to give us their best performance of the season. Offensively they still rank first in the country in assists per game, and  average 42.4 total rebounds per game which ranks 11th in the country. They also rank in the top part of the country in their overall offensive percentages from the inside out. Defensively they rank seventh in the country in opponent shooting percentage and opponent three point shooting percentage allowing just 28.3% from distance. They limit assists allowing just 10.2 per game, and are still one of the best rebounding teams in the country preventing opponents from a lot of second chances allowing them just 30.2 boards per game.

This a gut check game for Michigan State and I think they respond by shutting up a lot of pundits. They naturally have to be favored at home, even against a talented Maryland team, and I think there is good reason to back them tonight to win going away. For one of your NCAA basketball picks I recommend backing the Spartans minus the points and expect them to win by around double digits.