Maryland Terrapins (18-11) at Northwestern Wildcats (15-13)
Last night was one of our easier victories of the year. We backed a red-hot Penn State Nittany Lions team on the road against a Purdue team that had just lost three straight games. And oh yeah, somehow, we managed to get double-digit points too. The game went exactly like we thought it would. It was a back and forth affair that came down to the last couple of possessions.
The Nittany Lions actually led for the entire first half and well into the second half. In the end, Purdue managed to stop the bleeding on this recent losing streak and took the game 76-73. It was an easy cover that was never in doubt, and we will take the win. Both of these teams have bright futures and could make deep runs in the NCAA tournament this year, keep an eye on both of them.
Today, we will stay in the Big 10 conference, as I will break down the matchup between the Maryland Terrapins and the Northwestern Wildcats.
The Maryland Terrapins will try and do something they have struggled badly at this season, and that is, win a game on the road in Big 10 play. Maryland finds themselves right on the bubble for the NCAA tournament and must find a way to break through on the road and pick up a win tonight.
For Northwestern they will attempt to pick up the pieces after blowing a 27-point lead to Michigan State in their last game. Northwestern is -1.5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 132 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from the Allstate Arena.
What happened to Northwestern in their last game must have been brutal. They hosted a top-five ranked Michigan State team and opened up a 27-point first half lead. Not only were they going to beat Michigan State, they were going to blow them out.
Northwestern fans must have been in the stands checking their RPI and SOS and wondering that maybe with a giant blowout win against a team as good as Michigan State, could they find a viable path to their second straight NCAA tournament. Then it happened.
The Michigan State Spartans went on the run to end all runs. Not only did the Spartans not get blown out, they won by five points outright. The Wildcats got stuck on 53 points. Northwestern was leading 53-32 with sixteen minutes left in the second half. The Wildcats wouldn’t score for the next eleven-plus minutes, and when Wildcat Derek Pardon finally ended the misery with a free throw at the five-minute mark, it was now 56-54 Michigan State.
Northwestern could never recover. When the smoke cleared, it ended up being one of the biggest comebacks in NCAA history. The Wildcats must figure out how to move on tonight as they have another good team coming into town, in the Maryland Terrapins.
The Maryland Terrapins are a weird team this season. At home, they are an elite Big 10 team. On the road? They can’t beat anybody. At home, the Terrapins have beaten Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Rutgers. Those aren’t all great wins, but wins are wins in a very good Big 10 this year.
On the road? The Turtles have lost to Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, and Nebraska. The lone road win on the season for Maryland in Big 10 play? Against a last-place Illinois team.
Normally you can just glance at a team’s home and away splits and tell where they win their games and get a decent idea of how good they really are. But with the Big 10 having the uneven schedule that they do, it’s not all that fair to say that Maryland is a terrible road team.
Yeah, they lose a lot on the road and manage to win a lot at home. But when you dig a little deeper you can see that the way the schedule has worked out they have played all of the league’s best teams on the road, and the lesser of the league at home.
If you were to flip-flop that you would have to wonder what the Terrapins record might be. The Terrapins seven league road losses have come to six teams that are locks for the NCAA tournament and to an Indiana team that is just a hot finish away to sneaking into the tournament. It is not that they have been terrible on the road, despite the terrible record, they are just playing teams that are better than they are.
These two teams matched up just over a week ago in Maryland and the game wasn’t very close. The Terrapins led the entire way and coasted to a 16-point victory. If you look at the stat line for that game, Northwestern actually played a good game, and still got blown out.
They managed to drag down fourteen offensive boards and shot well from beyond the arc and from the charity stripe. You have to wonder, what it will take for them to be able to break through and win tonight at home.
I just don’t know how a team can recover from blowing a 27-point lead in their last game. That is going to leave a mark that is going to take a long time to fade away. Especially when you consider how rough this season has been and how badly those fans and that team needed a signature win. To get that close and blow it? I don’t know if they can recover from that this season.
When I first looked at this game, I didn’t like the idea of backing Maryland on the road. They just haven’t been able to win games away from home. But when you look at this Northwestern team right now, they look primed to give up.
Maryland has to win and is playing for a lot, while Northwestern has to be somewhat embarrassed to show their faces right now. I am going to snatch up the 1.5-points as I think this is a very close game. If I were hard pressed for an outright winner, I would take Maryland, but I am going to take the insurance policy as well and grab the points.
Give me the Maryland Terrapins +1.5-points tonight on the road.