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On 02/24/2014 10:09 AM in Cappers

Stephen Nover Free Monday CBB Play

Syracuse vs. Maryland, 02/24/2014 19:00
Point Spread: +5/-110 Maryland

One of the first things you learn when wagering sports is to respect the oddsmaker. This game opened at 3 and is being steamed up.

Don't you think the linesmaker knows Syracuse will be sky high for this matchup after consecutive losses, including a brutal loss two nights ago at Duke on a bogus charge call that caused a Jim Boeheim meltdown?

Of course the oddsmaker factored Syracuse motivation when making this number. Yes, the Orangemen are superior to Maryland, which probably is going to miss the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year.

But this isn't the jump-on-Syracuse-no-brainer some people think it is. The Orange and their coach are on tilt having dropped two straight after opening the season 25-0. Syracuse has not only fallen out of the top spot in the nation, but trails first-place Virginia in the ACC.

The Orangemen also are dealing with a late February fatigue factor due to Boeheim's season-long reluctance to use his bench. Boeheim hasn't used more than seven players during each of Syracuse's last four games. Now the Orangemen are playing in their second tough road venue in the last three days.

Boeheim's lack of confidence in his reserves is starting to take a toll on his team's jump shooting. Just look at Syracuse's backcourt. Shooting guard Trevor Cooney, who was leading the ACC in 3-pointers, has missed his last 12 of 15 shots from beyond the arc. Point guard Tyler Ennis missed 11 of 13 shots from the floor against Duke.

Maryland doesn't have Syracuse's talent, but the Terrapins are tough at home where they have won seven of their last eight. Their only home loss during this span was by four points to Pittsburgh, a team that should have defeated Syracuse 12 days ago.

Unlike Syracuse, which could still be pouting from its stinging loss at Duke, the Terrapins are rested and have had ample time to game plan for this matchup having last played six days ago.

Maryland desperately wants to make the NCAA Tournament. The Terrapins lack a signature victory, though. They've come close losing by one to Connecticut on a neutral court and by two to Duke on the road.

Yes, it's understandable to believe Syracuse will crush Maryland because it is so mad and needs a stop-the-pain game. But is it realistic?

The Orangemen have been living dangerously all season. They should have lost earlier before losing to Boston College and Duke. They were on borrowed time. Now reality has hit.

This is a very tough situational spot for the Orangemen against a fired-up conference opponent in desperate need of a win, too. It's a spot I'd rather be taking inflated points with than laying.

(Editor's note: Vegas pro Stephen Nover is 11-6 on his last 17 paid/free plays for 65 percent. In addition to this play, Stephen has his NBA Sides Play of the Month going today. Don't leave money on the table. Jump on it now.)

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