Sometimes you get half of a game right and miss on the other half. That is what happened last night when we took the over in the Gonzaga and BYU game. I expected the game to be competitive as the Cougars always seem to give the Zags fits in Provo. And seeing that both of these teams had elite offenses, I expected a high scoring game that would sail to the over. The Zags took care of business for us as they dropped ninety-three points on the scoreboard, but the Cougars just couldn’t keep up with this high-powered Zags offense and scored just sixty-three points in the loss.
Had BYU just kept the game even remotely competitive this game would have easily gone over, but the Zags defense looked elite again as they held the Cougars to just 36% shooting from the field and 28% from the land of three. There were a lot of question marks about this Gonzaga defense early in the season, but they have cleared up all of those concerns, and with the way they played last night, this Gonzaga team looks poised to run the table in the WCC and hit the tournament on the top seed line.
Josh Perkins continued his strong senior season as he dished out ten dimes, with just two turnovers, to lead the Zags offensive assault. Brandon Clarke continues to be the most underrated player in the country as he led the Zags with twenty-three points and nine boards, and Gonzaga had four players scoring in double-digits in the win. There isn’t a game left on this Gonzaga schedule where they won’t be double-digit favorites the rest of the way out, so expect Mark Few’s squad to continue to slowly climb up the rankings as the other top-ranked teams play tough games and pick up losses. Don’t be shocked if the Zags hit Selection Sunday ranked number one in the nation. For today’s pick, I will take a look at the game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Maryland Terrapins.
The Wisconsin Badgers will look to stay hot tonight as they host the Maryland Terrapins in a Big 10 conference game. Wisconsin has won four straight games, including beating the number two ranked Michigan Wolverines, and they are surging up the rankings. The recent win streak comes after the Badgers had lost four out of five.
For the Terrapins, they are looking to get back on track as they have lost two out of their last three games after reeling off seven straight wins. Both teams have three losses in league play and are looking to chase down Michigan and Michigan State for the Big 10 regular season title. The Badgers are -5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set 130 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM PST from the Kohl Center in Madison.
The Wisconsin Badgers have won four straight games. And these weren’t just any wins. They beat a very good Michigan team, as well as a ranked Nebraska team. They also beat Illinois and Northwestern to pick up two more league wins. The last time this Badgers team lost? January 14th against these Maryland Terrapins. In that game, the Badgers were getting blown out early, down by as many as twenty-one points, before making a furious run to cut the lead down, only to come up short and lose by three points.
But it seems that big run late has triggered great things for the Badgers as they have looked great since that loss. Things are about to get brutal for the Badgers though as after they host a very game Maryland team tonight, they have back to back road games against Minnesota and Michigan, and then host Michigan State. If they could run the table during that stretch, you would likely see them shoot up into the top ten nationally. But if the Badgers overlook the Terrapins tonight, they are going to get upset at home.
This Maryland Terrapins team is loaded with young, inexperienced talent. When your team is built like that there are times where you are going to play really well, and there are times where you are going to struggle. We saw the upside of this Maryland team during their recent seven-game winning streak where they beat Radford, Nebraska, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. All of those wins project to be good ones at the end of the year.
But we also saw that inconsistency as well as after that strong run of success, they lost at Michigan State and then had the ultimate let down game as they lost at home to a dreadfully bad Illinois team. The loss to the Illini was a shocking one as Illinois had just one Big 10 win going into that game. Maryland got right back on track in their last game though, beating up on a decent Northwestern team.
I love Big 10 basketball. This league is just so loaded with talent. Both of these teams are going to go dancing in March, and it wouldn’t at all shock me to see these teams as top four seeds. They certainly have the talent. The question in this one is which Maryland team is going to show up tonight? Is it going to be the team that won seven straight games and had a huge lead on these very same Wisconsin Badgers?
Or is it going to be the team, that nearly blew that twenty-one-point lead against Wisconsin and then turned around and lost to Illinois? I think we are going to see a good version of this Terrapins team tonight. They have played really well on the road in the Big 10, with road wins over Rutgers, Minnesota, and Ohio State. And I think they have a real shot at upsetting the Badgers at home tonight. Winning in Madison is one of the toughest things to do in the country, but this team has the talent to get it done.
In the end, I think the Badgers are going to find a way to win this game at home. But five points seems to be mighty high. While the Badgers are always great at home, they do have home losses to Minnesota and Purdue in Big 10 play this season, so this team isn’t invincible at home. I expect a hard fought and tightly contested game that comes down to the final few possessions. Give me the Maryland Terrapins and the five points tonight from Madison!