Free NCAA Basketball Picks: Take Indiana In Big Ten Rivalry Against Maryland

Jason Lake

Sunday, March 6, 2016 12:39 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 6, 2016 12:39 PM UTC

The Indiana Hoosiers are ahead of the Maryland Terrpains in both the rankings and the Big Ten standings. But the NCAA basketball odds think Sunday's matchup is closer than that.

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Mar. 5: 9-9 ATS, 1-2 Totals

Okay, so the Indiana Hoosiers (24-6 SU, 16-14 ATS) aren't the best team in the Big Ten. They just happen to have clinched the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed for Champ Week. That's not nothing. Granted, Indiana has played a weaker schedule than just about everyone else in the Big Ten, but this is still a very good team – certainly deserving of its No. 12 spot on the AP poll.

We're not so sure about the No. 14 Maryland Terrapins (24-6 SU, 13-15-1 ATS). You may recall we faded the Turtle earlier this week as a 15-point home chalk against the Illinois Fighting Illini. Maryland managed to win that game 81-55 to beat the NCAA basketball odds boards for the first time in nearly a month. But let's see how they handle the Hoosiers this Sunday (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS) at Assembly Hall. Laughter and evil music!


Hoo's Next
Honestly, we have nothing against the Terps here at the home office. There's no room for any of that when you make your NCAA basketball picks. But Maryland just isn't living up to market expectation. Even after that win over Illinois, Ken Pomeroy has this program ranked No. 21 overall (No. 33 offense, No. 19 defense) on his efficiency charts. Compare and contrast to Indiana at No. 13 overall (No. 9 offense, No. 70 defense).

We do have a tool for that comparison. Sports-Reference has the Hoosiers (+19.9 SRS) exactly two points better than the Terrapins (+17.9 SRS) on the Simple Rating System. That gives us a kayfabe spread of Indiana –5.5 at home, but the real spread at press time is Indiana –4.5. My math's been a bit off lately; is 4.5 less than 5.5? I'm being told that it is.


Hellhound on My Trail
So about that weak schedule... it's true. The Big Ten itself isn't quite as potent as it has been in recent years, and the Hoosiers have played the No. 12-ranked schedule out of the 14 teams in the conference, according to both Pomeroy and Sports-Reference. Maryland's somewhere in the peloton, depending on which site you prefer.

No problem. Our favorite hoop nerds have already factored strength of schedule into their ratings; again, the market appears to have over-adjusted with its criticism of the Hoosiers. Meanwhile, Maryland is 8-13-1 ATS after a win this year, and 1-4-1 ATS in its last six road games. There are a couple of injury concerns for Indiana with sophomore guard Robert Johnson (14.4 PER, +5.4 BPM) recovering from a high-ankle sprain and freshman forward Juwan Morgan (14.4 PER, +5.2 BPM) nursing a banged-up shoulder, but it looks like Morgan will play Sunday, while Johnson will be a game-time decision. Every little bit helps. We'll stick with the Hoosiers on Senior Night, and may the sphere be with you.

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NCAA Basketball Picks: Indiana  +5.5
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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