The No. 10 Maryland Terrapins and No. 7 Connecticut Huskies are scheduled to dance this evening, with tip-off scheduled for 7:10 p.m. EST at Mackey Arena. The NCAA Tournament committee doesn’t always get these pairings correct. It’s often that you’ll see a No. 10 team entering the game as the betting favorite. Not this time, but we saw this situation play out between No. 10 Rutgers and No. 7 Clemson on Friday.
We were on Rutgers as a small favorite and they edged Clemson out for a 60-56 final to win and cover. Rutgers had a comfortable lead early in the second half, but they allowed that game to go sideways. It was a close call there for Rutgers, who allowed Clemson to tie things up, though perseverance prevailed.
The oddsmakers agree with the committee this time, and have Connecticut as the small favorites against Maryland. The Terrapins had a decent go of it in the Big Ten Tournament. Maryland defeated the Michigan State Spartans to open the tourney by a score of 68-57. Things started out smoothly, and they made a decent attempt against Michigan, but couldn’t keep up in a 79-66 loss.
Maryland will try again in the NCAA Tournament and hope for the best as a No. 10 seed. I don’t think they have the firepower to put a dent in the dance, but you never know if they can catch some breaks along the way. Maryland were solid at home, though they struggled to win games on the road. That could come back to haunt them at Mackey Arena.
The Terrapins were in great form from February 14 to February 28 with five straight wins. Their most impressive on that slate was a 68-59 win over Rutgers on the road. In other words, they didn’t exactly beat a top-flight team during that stretch. Their best win on the season had to be on January 10 against Illinois on the road, 66-63. A 61-60 win over Purdue on February 2 was the second ranked team that they beat this season.
UConn went on a run not too long ago as well. The Huskies were on a five-game winning streak before losing against Creighton in the Big East Tournament, 59-56. They were also winners in seven of eight games before the Bluejays beat the Huskies in a close call on March 12. Two of their wins during their five-game winning streak was against Georgetown, which doesn’t look like such easy wins now. Head below for our free Maryland vs. UConn pick on March 20, 2021.
Maryland Terrapins (No. 10) vs. Connecticut Huskies (No. 7) NCAA Tournament Betting Odds:
Maryland vs. Connecticut Prediction:
Kemba Walker isn’t here with the Huskies to lead them to a NCAA title, but nevertheless, this is still a very solid team that could go on a run behind James Bouknight. They played a strong game against Creighton in the Big East Tournament, though were on the losing side of a close one. A win against the Bluejays and the Huskies would have recorded their sixth straight game.
Both of these teams play a similar style, as they want to employ a tough and physical defense to win games. Overall, Maryland was a tick better with 64.7 points against per game, while the Huskies gave up 65.2 points per game. The difference isn’t much, and we can refer to both defenses as effective units.Where UConn has a major advantage on Maryland defensively, and offensively for that matter, is their ability to collect rebounds.
UConn is much more aggressive on the boards than the Terrapins. While Maryland was 140th defensively, the Huskies were 21st in the country on the defensive boards. It’s more of the same on offense, where Maryland struggles to crash the boards, as they were 260th compared to 68th in the country in favor of the Huskies. In recent form, the UConn offense was heating up late and has a decent advantage on Maryland.
The Huskies recorded 79.4 points per game through their last five games, while Maryland was still struggling to score consistently at 64.6 points per game. Overall, UConn netted 72.3 points a game, and Maryland were a touch below 70 points at 68.9 points per contest. As I said earlier, Maryland didn’t care for playing on the road. They went 4-6 as opposed to 11-6 at home.
Conversely, UConn were solid on the road, with a record of 6-3. UConn is coming off a loss, but that’s when they play their best. Note that the Huskies are 5-1 ATS following a straight up loss. In their previous five games as a favorite on a neutral court, UConn covered at a perfect rate of 5-0. This should be a tight battle, but I like the Huskies to pull away in the stretch to clear Maryland by 67-62 or 71-64.