Maryland Terrapins at Illinois Fighting Illini NCAAM Pick – February 7, 2020

Yesterday we introduced you to a play called right side, wrong number. The Utah Utes opened up as one-point home underdogs in their Pac-12 game against the Stanford Cardinal. The overnight and early morning betting sharps took advantage of the weak number and jumped on the side of Utah. By the time we got to the number, the Utes were now -1-point favorites.

This put us in a dilemma. Did we want to get on the same side as the sharps and get a weaker number? Or did we want to fade the line move and back the road team? Or we could always just layoff altogether. I felt that even though the line moved on us, that Utah still displayed significant value at the current price, so I went ahead and backed them anyway at the new number, thus the term right side, wrong number.

This game wasn’t nearly as competitive as you might think based on the fact that it went into overtime. The Utes led for over thirty-eight minutes of regulation in this one and held the lead with less than a minute left to play. They led by double-digits for most of the first half, and their biggest lead was thirteen-points.

But as usually is the case in a game where one team, Stanford, consistently overachieves, and another team, Utah, always seems to find a way to lose, this one came down to the wire. The Cardinal managed to push this one into overtime before they finally ran out of gas, getting outscored by eight in the extra period.

The win was a huge one for Utah as they look to bolster their NCAA tournament resume. The win was the seventh top-100 win of the season for the Utes, and they are going to need to pick up a couple more signature wins if they want a realistic shot of hearing their name called on Selection Sunday.

For Stanford, their road struggles continued, as they have now lost their last three conference road games. The Cardinal have five road games left on their schedule, and they must find a way to break through on the road, or they are going to see their NCAA tournament stock plunge. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to the Big-10, where the Fighting Illini of Illinois host the Maryland Terrapins with first place in the league on the line.

Today’s Game

  • Maryland Terrapins (18-4) at Illinois Fighting Illini (16-6)
  • Assembly Hall, Champaign
  • 5:00 PM PST
  • TV: FS1

The Maryland Terrapins will look to stay hot tonight as they head to Illinois to play the Fighting Illini. The Terrapins have emerged as one of the best teams in what I think is the nation’s best league, and they have won eight out of their last ten games, including five straight. If Maryland can knock off Illinois on the road, they will take over sole possession of first place in the Big-10 standings.

For Illinois, the Fighting Illini saw their seven-game winning streak snapped in their last game, a road loss at Iowa. Illinois hosts Maryland tonight, and then Michigan State on Tuesday, and if they can win both games, they would be the prohibitive favorites to win the Big-10 regular-season title.

Spread:

  • Maryland +2 (-110)
  • Illinois -2 (-110)
Money line:

  • Maryland +120
  • Illinois -140
Total Points:

  • Over 128.5 (-110)
  • Under 128.5 (-110)

Maryland Terrapins

This Maryland Terrapins team is built for a deep run in the NCAA tournament. They have played one of the toughest schedules in the country this year, with an SOS of fourteen, and they have an elite record to show for it. Their list of signature wins might be the best in the country with wins over Rhode Island, Marquette, Notre Dame, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Purdue, Iowa, and Rutgers.

But if you were going to find the one weakness of this team, it is with their ability to win on the road in hostile territory. All four of their losses this year came in true road games. Losses to Seton Hall, Wisconsin, Penn State, and Iowa all came against very good teams that are certain to be playing meaningful games in March.

That is also the case for this Illinois team they will be playing tonight. That being said, the Terrapins did find a way to win their last two road games, against Northwestern and Indiana, and need to find a way to keep up that momentum tonight in Champaign.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois has been almost unbeatable at home this year. They picked up a fluky non-conference loss early in the year to Miami, but besides that, they have been perfect in Assembly Hall. At home this season, the Illini are 12-1 including going 5-0 in Big-10 play.

The Illini have the biggest matchup problem in the Big-10 in seven-foot monster Kofi Cockburn. The freshman is a double-double machine and does a great job of protecting the paint. In the first matchup between these two teams, Cockburn got into foul trouble early and played just twenty-one minutes, his lowest total of the season. In his limited action, he did dominate as he scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds. Keeping him on the floor is going to be a major key to success for the Illini tonight.

Who Do I Like?

What a great game we have in store for you in this one! Two really good teams, fighting for first place in the best league in the land. So, where do I find the value in this one? On the home team. When these teams matched up in Maryland, the Illini jumped out to a huge first-half lead, leading by as many as fifteen points. Illinois still had a three-point lead with just twenty seconds left on the clock.

Maryland superstar Anthony Cowan Jr hit a three to tie the game up with just a couple of ticks left in the game, and then made a free throw on the next possession to give Maryland the come from behind victory. We talked earlier about Maryland being undefeated at home, but that didn’t have to be the case, as Illinois was oh so close to upsetting them.

The Bet

Yesterday I mentioned a play that I occasionally make called right side, wrong number. And while you don’t want to make a habit of betting softer than you need to be numbers, I am going to make a similar play tonight in this one. This line opened up at Illinois -1-point. It has now shifted to Illinois -2-points.

But I still feel like there is plenty of value to be had backing Illinois. They nearly knocked off Maryland on the road in the first matchup, and I think they will get their revenge tonight at home. I wouldn’t want to lay much more than the two points, so I would make a play now before the number shifts any further. Give me the Illinois Fighting Illini -2-points tonight at home!

The Bet: Illinois Fighting Illini -2

My Pick
ILLINOIS FIGHTNG ILLINI -2
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL