East Region Second Round Prediction & Free Pick: #3 LSU vs. #6 Maryland

Date | AuthorAdmir Aljic

Last Updated: 2019-03-22

The East Region Second Round tips-off on Saturday, March 23, 2018, with the matchup between the No. 6 seed Maryland Terrapins and the No. 3 seed LSU Tigers at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. The Terrapins barely survived Belmont in the first rounds, while the Tigers had a much easier job against Yale. LSU is listed as a 2.5-point favorite here with the total at 147.0 points and Maryland at +125 money line odds, as one of these two at-large teams will make it to the Sweet Sixteen.

The Maryland Terrapins were on the verge of elimination, but they somehow escaped with a 79-77 victory over the Belmont Bruins. Darryl Morsell made a crucial steal in the final seconds of the game to take his team to the second round for the seventh time in Maryland’s last eight appearances in the NCAA Tournament. The Terrapins were trailing by six points at halftime, dropping 45 points in the second half to overcome the Bruins. They shot 43.5% from the field, making just six of their 22 attempts from deep, but the Terrapins turned the ball over just five times, keeping their head cool down the stretch. Four Maryland’s players scored in double figures, and the freshman Jalen Smith led the way with 19 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 8-of-9 from the field.

The Terrapins are scoring 112.6 points per 100 possessions this season (31st in the country) on 51.8 effective field goal percentage (121st). Their defense is doing a great job, allowing 93.4 points per 100 possessions (24th) on 46.1 effective field goal percentage (17th). Anthony Cowan Jr. is driving the Terrapins’ offense, averaging 15.8 points and 4.4 assists per game, but the junior guard was quiet against Belmont, scoring just nine points on 16.7% shooting from the field. The sophomore forward Bruno Fernando had a good game in the first round with 14 points and 13 rebounds, and he’s averaging 13.7 points and 10.5 boards per contest this season.

On the other side, the LSU Tigers defeated the Yale Bulldogs 79-74 in the first round of the East Region, having a lead for all 40 minutes of the game. They were up by 16 points at halftime, but the Tigers allowed the Bulldogs to cut the deficit in the second period, and we had a four-point game with just 33 seconds left on the clock. Still, the Bulldogs couldn’t make an upset, while the Tigers will have to think about their second-half performance. LSU shot 45.9% from the field, nailing just four of their 17 attempts from beyond the arc and missing nine free throws, so the Tigers were pretty lucky that Bulldogs had an awful shooting display. Skylar Mays led the Tigers with 19 points, while Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Williams both posted a double-double. Reid had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Bigby-Williams added 10 points and 10 boards.

The Tigers are scoring 118.5 points per 100 possessions this term (10th in the country) on 51.7 effective field goal percentage (125th). They have some problems at the defensive end, conceding 96.5 points per 100 possessions (57th) on 50.0 effective field goal percentage (139th). The sophomore PG Tremont Waters is driving the Tigers’ offense, averaging 15.1 points and 6.0 assists per game, and he had 15 points and seven dimes against Yale. Naz Reid will need to continue with a strong performance, as the freshman PF is tallying 13.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest.

Pick: Maryland Terrapins +2.5

After five second-round exits in their last seven appearances in the NCAA Tournament, the Maryland Terrapins will be keen to reach the Sweet Sixteen. The Tigers are in the second round for the first time since 2009, so we’ll see two talented and highly motivated teams taking on each other which promises a great battle. The Tigers certainly possess more offensive weapons than the Terrapins, but their defense will be a big issue. The Terrapins look like a well-balanced team and I think they will find the way to upset the Tigers. The key will be Maryland’s offense, as it’s essential for the Terrapins to find a good shooting rhythm. In the first round, the Terrapins overcame an in-form Belmont, while the Tigers outlasted Yale that had a really bad day in the office.

Maryland is 6-3 straight up and ATS in its last nine outings as a dog, while LSU is 6-3 straight up and 5-4 ATS in its last nine showings as a fave. Also, Maryland is just 1-5 straight up and ATS in its last six second-round games, but the Terrapins won their last meeting with the No. 3 seed.

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