You have to be quick on the draw sometimes with college basketball. Lines can move and move rather substantially in what can be an inefficient market. Take yesterday’s Alabama vs. LSU game for example. At time of writing, the total was 161.5. Less than 30 minutes after the preview was posted, the total was 164. By tip-off, the total was 167 in some places.
I feel bad that the total got as high as it did, but anybody that got the early 161.5 all the way up to 165.5 was a winner. The 166 was a push and the 167 lost. It’s like I always say, the number doesn’t matter until it does. It mattered in this game, so long as you didn’t get the worst of it.
I don’t like when those things happen because not everybody was able to get involved at a good number. Hopefully you did and hopefully you cashed a winner. And hopefully we’ll get another one here with a look at the Big Ten battle between Iowa and Maryland. Thanks to my old friend indigestion, this is a look using the overnight line of Maryland -5.5 and the total of 145.5 at BetOnline Sportsbook.
It is a busy card for Thursday and my situational spots betting article is a good guide throughout the week. We also discussed UNC Wilmington vs. Towson on Monday’s edition of BangTheBook Radio, so you can try that segment on for size.
As a general rule, I’ve tried to shy away from the Big Ten this season. The home/road dichotomy has been great and the teams have been all over the map beating each other. Every Big Ten team has at least two losses in conference play and several that have four or more are under consideration for the NCAA Tournament.
Iowa and Maryland each have three, so this is a pretty big game both ways in College Park. The Hawkeyes are in a really nice groove right now and it started with a “Turdgeon”, which is what I’m calling Maryland’s road performances from this point forward. The Terrapins went to Iowa City and got trounced 67-49 back on January 10 in a game that I previewed. And shamefully picked Maryland.
The Terps wound up with .699 points per possession in that one, which stands as Iowa’s best defensive effort to date. The only other one in the same breath came against Kennesaw State, who is among the worst teams in the country. Iowa only had .956 PPP, which was on the low end of the spectrum for them this season, but it was more than enough to come away with the 18-point dub.
Since that win, Iowa has rattled off four more, with three of those coming at home. The only road win came at Northwestern, where the Wildcats have lost four of five in conference play, with the lone win coming against a similarly bad Nebraska team. So, the Hawkeyes are getting a big road test here. They are just 1-3 in those road games in conference play.
Maryland lost both games on that Midwestern swing through Iowa and Wisconsin, but has three wins since, including a road win at Indiana last time out that should inspire a bit of confidence. Prior to that, Maryland had one true road win and it came against Northwestern. Now the Terps are back at home, where things are quite rosy. Maryland is unblemished at 11-0 at the Xfinity Center and has won with defense. The offensive numbers really aren’t what you would expect with a 30.2% 3P% at home and a 51.6% 2P%. Maryland has taken good care of the basketball and has attacked the offensive glass well, but that was mostly against weaker competition. In Big Ten home games, the Terrapins are only hitting threes at a 29.9% clip and are only shooting 46.4% from 2. In fact, in those four games, which are all wins mind you, Maryland has the lowest eFG% in the conference at home.
The Terrapins, though, are tops in eFG% in home games among conference teams and opponents are only shooting a measly 19.7% from 3. That could be the game within the game in this one. Iowa is a much better offensive team than defensive team. Fran McCaffery’s bunch ranks fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency per Bart Torvik, but 82nd in defense. The Hawkeyes are in the top 100 in 2P%, 3P%, and FT% for the season and also take good care of the basketball.
There are some modest decreases in the shooting percentages on the road and in neutral setting, with about a 1% drop in each. Their offense actually does travel relatively well and the defense drops off by a similar increment. The thing is that Iowa has had some real duds away from home. San Diego State is an elite defensive team, but the offense is a little bit behind. They had 1.225 PPP against the Hawkeyes back in November. Michigan had 1.387 PPP in Ann Arbor. Both Penn State and Nebraska had offensive success.
Iowa’s offense is better than that of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, and Purdue, but it is worth noting that those four teams failed to get to 60 points in Maryland’s home Big Ten wins. Maryland has played some very low-scoring affairs at home this season.
This total is sitting at 141.5 on the overnight lines. The first meeting only had 116 points, as Iowa uncharacteristically struggled on offense and Maryland was extremely bad. The total in that game was 145.5, so we have seen a slight adjustment, but I’m not sure that it is enough. Maryland can’t get engaged in high-scoring games with most teams in the Big Ten. They don’t want to. Maryland is also one of the slowest-tempo teams in this league and they’ve really dictated the pace well at home. In their element, they can slow it down and have had success slowing down the four teams that have come to College Park.
Rather than lay a decent-sized number with Maryland in a revenge spot after losing by 18, I’m looking for a repeat of the under here. Iowa’s offense has traveled well, but they’re on the road for the first time in 16 days and Maryland has really locked down defensively at home. It’s the under for me in this one. If we get another total move down, I like this one into the 142.5 range. After that, I’d stay away, it’s too much of a move and adjustment.
Pick: Under 145.5