NCAA Basketball Picks: Underdog Purdue Will Hang With Maryland

Doug Upstone

Saturday, February 6, 2016 12:59 AM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 12:59 AM UTC

In a Saturday just bursting with great college hoops games, one that fits the criteria is out of the Big Ten with Purdue at Maryland and it should be looked at for NCAA Basketball picks.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Purdue +4.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker


Both these squads are in the trail position in the Big Ten to frontrunners Indiana and Iowa and if either expects to catch or surpass them and receive a higher NCAA tourney bid, it needs this contest today. Maryland is at 9-2 (5-5-1 ATS) in the conference and being at home can ill-afford a misstep. Purdue's situation is even more precarious at 7-3 (5-5 ATS) and could use a big time road win.

The NCAA Basketball odds have the Terrapins favored, but can they pull this off?


Purdue's Offense Will Have To Be As Good As Its Defense
Purdue (19-4, 12-7 ATS) got back to basics this season and coach Matt Painter with the roster he assembled has stressed defense and his club is allowing only 62.2 points per game. The Boilermakers current field goal percentage defense of 38.1 percent is the lowest since the advent of the shot clock, three decades ago. Having two seven-footers like A.J. Hammons (14.3 PPG) and Isaac Haas (10.2) makes this possible, which allows the Purdue guards to pressure the ball knowing a couple giants are there to protect the rim.

However, over the last three games, opponents have shot 48.2 percent against the Boilers from the field percent, attacking them in transition and with ball movement. Purdue lacks superior quickness and is on pace to force the fewest turnovers per game in school history, currently at just 10.6 turnovers per game.

This is why it will be imperative for the Boilermakers to force the ball inside to their big guys and take good shots from the perimeter and not let Maryland get out and run.


Maryland Can Be Great With Polished Diamond
The influx of great talent this season made Maryland (20-3, 10-12-2 ATS) a true Final Four contender. Guard Melo Trimble (14.8 PPG) already in place and transfers Robert Carter Jr. (12.8) and Rasheed Sulaimon (10.5) were immediate difference-makers if coach Mark Turgeon could find ways to have them put their past behind them.

What makes the Terps a possible true national championship contender is freshman Diamond Stone. The 6'11 center can score at 13 PPG, rebound (5.7 PG) and block shots (1.7 PG). Though he occasionally has his freshman moments, in this game and done the line he and Trimble as the two players on Maryland who change their team's fortunes for the positive.

Maryland averages 76.5 PPG and concedes just 64.2 PPG and if their big guys can match points and get Purdue's big fellas in foul trouble, they can take over the game.


What Bettors Need To Know
This is Purdue's seventh road conflict and they are 4-2 and 3-3 ATS, with scoring differential of +7.8. This will be the third time they are road underdogs and they have split the previous two both SU and versus the number. They ended a three-game spread losing streak against Nebraska, covering the 12 points in 89-74 win last Saturday. The Boilersmakers have not played in a week and are 6-2 and 3-3 ATS with three or more days between games.

Maryland has yet to lose at home, sporting a 12-0 record (5-7 ATS) with winning margin of 17.7 PPG. As good as they have been, the Terps have been a favorite each time, but they were pushed at Nebraska on Wednesday, winning 70-65 as 5.5-point favorites and they are 5-4-1 ATS off a non-cover, winning by 10.5 PPG.


What To Expect And Spread Winner
Purdue opened as a five-point road underdog with a total of 140 and in each of their setbacks, they were beaten by teams who could push the ball down the floor before they could set up there defense, falling to Iowa twice, Butler and somehow Illinois. Maryland is certainly capable of doing this, which means coach Painter needs his team to rebound, work the shot clock and win the battle in the paint.

At this price I think they can, especially as underdogs being 9-2 ATS off a Big Ten home triumph. Though the sample size is small for NCAA Basketball picks I found the visiting Boilermakers are 6-0 ATS versus good shooting teams making 48% or more of their shots 15 or more games into the season the last three years.

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