NCAA Tournament Picks: West Virginia vs. Maryland

Ross Benjamin

Sunday, March 22, 2015 1:33 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 22, 2015 1:33 PM UTC

This NCAA Tournament betting preview article focuses on a couple of fierce rivals: West Virginia and Maryland. We give you the very best betting edge to apply with an ATS selection.

Competitive Second Round Matchup in Columbus
The #4 seed Maryland Terrapins (28-6) and #5 seed West Virginia Mountaineers (24-9) will clash on Sunday in a Midwest Region third round game. The opening tip is slated for 8:40 PM ET, and the game will be played in Columbus, Ohio. The site of today’s game may give the Mountaineers a slight edge, considering Columbus is just 100-miles from their Morgantown campus. According to the NCAA Tournament betting odds at Bookmaker, Maryland is a 1.5 point favorite, and the posted total is 138.5.


Mountaineers Pressure Defense a Headache for Opponents
The West Virginia Mountaineers pressure defense has forced an average of 20 turnovers a game, and that’s the best in the entire country. That part of their game was arguably the determining factor in their narrow 68-62 second round win over the #12 seed Buffalo Bulls. They forced the Bulls into 17-turnovers. When they weren’t able to create a turnover, the Mountaineers were very disruptive in preventing Buffalo from getting comfortable in running their half court offense. That style of defensive play doesn’t come without risks, and often times results in outnumbered situations for opponents that lead to easy baskets. Case in point, West Virginia has allowed opponents to shoot 50% or better from the field in eight of their previous twelve games.

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Good Defensive Team in their own Right
West Virginia may be garnering all the attention in this matchup regarding defensive play. However, Maryland has held opponents to 36% or less shooting from the field in five of their previous six games. The Terrapins don’t get it done by applying full court pressure like today’s opponent. They excel in their half court and transition defense. Maryland has allowed 62-points or less in six of their previous seven games. They’re also a very good three-point shooting team that has converted on a stellar 37.4% of their attempts this season. The Terrapins have gone 9-1 in their last ten games, and their only loss in that sequence came in the Big 10 Tournament semifinals by a score of 62-58 to Michigan State.


Final Analysis and Selection
I believe that Maryland will be to handle the Mountaineers defensive pressure better than most teams have this season. The Mountaineers rely heavily on that aspect of their game to create points off turnovers. That style of play has also been conducive to the West Virginia fouling early and often. Opponents have averaged a huge number of 26 free throw attempts per game against West Virginia. That’s not good news for Mountaineers backers, considering Maryland is an excellent free throw shooting team that converts an outstanding 75.7% of their attempts.

This is a very close call in many regards. In a game that most likely will come down to the wire, I’m siding with the Terrapins for one of my NCAA Tournament picks on Sunday.

NCAA Tournament Picks: Play on Maryland -1.0 from The Greek 

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