NCAA Basketball Pick on Northwestern to Cover at Maryland

LT Profits Sports Group

Sunday, January 25, 2015 2:57 PM GMT

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Sunday.

 

The underdogs should do enough to cover the double-digit point spread Sunday night in Big Ten action when those Northwestern Wildcats (10-9, 2-3 away) pay a visit to the Maryland Terrapins (17-3, 12-1 home) at the Comcast Center in College Park, MD at 7:30 ET in a game televised nationally on Big Ten Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Northwestern as a large road underdog for this contest with the current line at +13 with odds of -116.


Terps Coming off of Worst Loss
Maryland entered this week ranked 12th in the AP poll but the Terrapins will almost certainly fall after playing their worst game of the season Thursday in an 89-70 blowout loss to the Indiana Hoosiers on the road in Bloomington to fall to a still good 17-3 for the year and 5-2 in Big Ten Conference play. That was the first time a Maryland team allowing 62.8 points per game allowed any opponent to reach 80 points.

Northwestern had a nice start to its Big Ten season by winning on the road at Rutgers, but the Wildcats have since been the losing NCAA Basketball picks in five straight conference affairs and they are now just barely over the .500 mark at 10-9 overall. Still, the Cats do have some good young talent, most notable freshman Bryant McIntosh, and the losing streak may have them undervalued catching double-digits in this spot.


Young Leadership for Wildcats
McIntosh is a 6-foot-3 point guard that has stepped right in as a freshman to rank second on the team with his 11.9 points per game, just marginally behind Tre Demps and his 12.0 points, while leading the team with his 4.6 assists and scoring in double-digits in 11 of his last 12 games. McIntosh is a key reason why three of the five losses during the losing steak was by five points or less and a fourth one was by seven points in overtime at Michigan State.

Obviously any of those four results would be good enough to cover this much bigger spread and Northwestern is in fact a sparkling 11-6 ATS overall this season including a perfect 5-0 ATS on the road! The only blowout loss inside the conference was to a Wisconsin Badgers team that is one of the very best in the entire country, which is certainly forgivable.

A key to the Maryland success has been ranking 13th in the nation in raw defensive rebounds with 27.5 per game, but in this contest, it is actually Northwestern that has the better defensive rebounding percentage ranking 31st in the country while Maryland is 71st despite grabbing the bigger gross amount. That hidden edge for the Wildcats would become more apparent if they slow the pace as they like to do, as they are ranked 316th in tempo rating.

And we see no reason why Northwestern cannot successfully slow the pace as it is nicely above average in offensive turnover percentage at 18.2 percent vs. a national average of 19.5 percent while Maryland has not been good at all in turning teams over, ranking 284th in defensive turnover percentage at only 17.4 percent.


Maryland Has Its Own Top Freshman
And speaking of top freshman, Maryland may have the best one in the country in Melo Trimble, who leads the Terps with his 15.8 points per game. He also leads Maryland in assists, but that is with a rather low average of 2.9 per contest. In fact, Maryland as a team is only 248th nationally in assist/field goal made ratio at 49.7 percent, and that could be the Achilles Heel of a team some may consider longshot candidates to win the national title.

Comparatively Northwestern is 24th in the land in A/FGM at 62.4 percent.

Besides not really having a true point guard, the Terrapins are not particularly big with their tallest starter being the 6-foot-9 Jake Layman, and he could have his hands full with Northwestern’s seven-footer Alex Olah, who is averaging 17.0 points in his last three games.

Not surprisingly, Maryland is a below average team in offensive rebounding percentage at 30.6 percent vs. a national average of 31.2 percent, and as mentioned earlier this could be one of the few games where the Terrapins may not have the edge on the defensive class either.


Nice Bets on Road
And besides the overall ATS success of Northwestern on the road this season, remember also that the Wildcats do not back down to anyone going 5-1 ATS in their last six road games vs. teams with a home winning percentage of greater than .600.

All things considered, this seems like an awfully lot of points and we recommend taking the generous spread with Northwestern when it visits Maryland on Sunday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Northwestern +13 (-116)