The college basketball schedule is jam-packed with action again today as we have 139-games on the schedule, including much of the top-25 in action. The headlining game on the schedule for today is a Big-12 matchup between Baylor and West Virginia, but there are plenty of competitive games to be played today.
Baylor remained No. 1 in the AP men’s college basketball poll two days after being the top overall seed in the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee’s preliminary rankings. The Bears received 48 of the 64 first-place votes.
— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) February 11, 2020
This includes games between LSU and Alabama, Maryland at Michigan State, Purdue at Ohio State, Houston at SMU, and Illinois at Rutgers, just to name a few of the games with major NCAA tournament ramifications.
With just a couple of weeks before Selection Sunday, teams are jockeying for position, and all of these games become that much more important as we approach March. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to the Big 10 and breakdown the game between Maryland and Michigan State.
- Maryland Terrapins (20-4) at Michigan State Spartans (17-8)
- 3:00 PM PST
- Breslin Center, East Lansing
- TV: ESPN
The Michigan State Spartans are looking to sneak back into the top-25 after dropping out of the rankings for the first time this season earlier this week. The Spartans famously started the year out as the nation’s number one team in the preseason, but have struggled in Big 10 play. The Spartans managed to pick up a huge win over Illinois, on the road no less, in their last game, and if they can defend their home floor tonight against a top-10 Maryland team, you can be sure Sparty will find themselves right back in the top-25 on Monday when the next poll is released.
GET UP IT'S GAMEDAY!
— Michigan State Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) February 15, 2020
For Maryland, the Terrapins are looking to stay in first place atop the Big-10 standings with a win tonight on the road. With Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan State all struggling recently, the Terrapins have a full game lead over Penn State for the regular-season league title, with all other teams at least two games back. Joe Lunardi, the chief bracketologist at ESPN, has the Terrapins as a two seed right now, and they could move up to a one seed with a strong finish and Big 10 regular season title.
Michigan State Spartans
The Michigan State Spartans had to win their last game against Illinois, and they got the job done. The Spartans went into that game having lost three straight games, and with this game against Maryland coming later in the week, if they hadn’t been able to upset Illinois on the road, they were in major danger of losing five in a row. The last thing you want to do is fall apart late in the season, and while it is hard to call a game must-win this early in the year, it was a huge victory for Tom Izzo’s squad.
But when you look at how it played out, the Spartans nearly blew a huge nineteen point lead against the Illini, and if it weren’t for some very questionable late calls by the refs, and a fluky knee injury to Ayo Dosunmu on the last possession of the game, Michigan State could have easily lost the game. The schedule remains a vicious one for Michigan State as they still have road games at Maryland and Penn State, and home games against Iowa and Ohio State before heading to the Big 10 tournament.
I have been high on this Maryland team all season long. They are exactly the type of team that could make a run to the Final Four. They are battle-tested, with an SOS of 21st in the nation, and they have a senior leader point guard in Anthony Cowan Jr. that is going to end up getting national player of the year votes before all is said and done this year.
After starting out just 3-3 in league play, the Terrapins have caught fire recently as they have won seven straight conference games. That winning streak includes three road wins, with wins over Indiana, Illinois, and Northwestern. When you look at the full body of work for Maryland, they have elite wins over Rhode Island, Temple, Harvard, Marquette, Notre Dame, Illinois (twice), Indiana (twice), Ohio State, Purdue, Iowa, and Rutgers. Few teams in the nation can boast the resume that this Maryland team has right now.
Who Do I Like?
If you have been following my daily betting picks for college basketball this year, you may have noticed a strong trend in my bets. I love to back home teams in the Big 10. The Big 10 has been a home team dominated league this season, and I have taken full advantage of it by consistently backing home teams either as home dogs, or small favorites.
So, it might surprise some of you that I am going to back a road team in this one. The Spartans have been shaky at best recently, and I think they need to be on upset alert tonight at home. Michigan State historically is always great at home, and they have been great at home this season as well.
But they do have home losses to Penn State and Duke, two teams that rate out very similarly to this Maryland team. The Spartans are 4-6 in their last ten games, and the analytics tell us that this Maryland team is better than all of those six teams they have lost to in the last several weeks.
I am not sure there is a team I wouldn’t back Maryland against right now, getting this many points. Maryland has played a brutal schedule, and they have an elite 20-4 record to show for it. Of those four losses, all of them came against good teams that will be dancing in March, and in only the game against Iowa, did they lose by more points than this spread is tonight.
So, while I am not quite confident enough to pick the huge outright road upset, I do see this game as being a very competitive one. It would be shocking to me to see Michigan State win this game by double-digits, and when I can snatch up seven points, that is basically what they would have to do to cover. So, I’ll back the Terrapins and take the points, and feel like the cover is in the bag. Give me the Maryland Terrapins and the seven points tonight from East Lansing!