Maryland vs. Oklahoma St. Pick NCAA Hoops – Dec 21st

All you need to know about yesterday’s Kentucky vs. UCLA game is the following stat: in the first half UK blocked eight UCLA shots. At the half, UCLA had scored seven points. SEVEN points. In the half. It was the lowest scoring half in UCLA basketball history by seven points and the opening 24-0 deficit was also a dubious UCLA record. I am quite sure I’ve never witnessed anything quite like what Kentucky did to a reasonable UCLA squad yesterday and don’t think I’ve seen a college team as dominant and as physically intimidating as Kentucky since the 1990 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.

Next week’s enormous showdown against Louisville looms large, but it is hard to picture the Cardinals being able to beat this squad – and if they can’t compete, the question becomes who can?

Meanwhile we won our other pick equally as easily yesterday as Notre Dame blew the doors off an inferior Purdue squad, winning by 30 points in a second-half romp. However, that was far from the low point of the day as Michigan State tallied another humiliating loss for the Big Ten with a home loss to previously 1-8 Texas Southern.   Add them to the list that already featured NJIT, Incarnate Word and North Florida and you have one of the most humiliating preconference stretches in Big Ten history.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Maryland Terps at Oklahoma State Cowboys -9 (Total: 137)

This line leaps off the page as a surprising one, as I’d have this game much closer to even based on early season performances, as well as preseason expectations; both teams are a little better than expected, neither is great. Maryland is missing their best player on paper, senior Dez Wells, but they have actually been playing a little better since he went down. They have won three straight since a 75-65 loss to Virginia. That loss is their only of the season, and it is certainly not an embarrassing one – Virginia is one of the best teams and most efficient on both ends of the floor, in the entire nation. A ten point loss is no shame.

Meanwhile Maryland owns a neutral court win over Iowa State to help legitimize the better-than-expected start.   It’s easy to forget they are now in the Big Ten, but upon remembering that fact, it helps to balance the embarrassment of some of their league-mates up in Michigan.

Oklahoma State has gotten great immediate freshman contributions and appears to be dodging the rebuilding year most anticipated after the departure of Marcus Smart. Le’Bryan Nash is one of the more underrated players in the country and Phil Ford III has been excellent as his running mate. The pair average over 32 ppg and have been very good defenders as well.

Oklahoma State may very well be a top three team in the Big 12, but laying nearly double digits to a quality ballclub is a lot. I think Maryland acquits themselves well on the road and competes all the way. I’m not sure they win in a very difficult place to play, but I think they hang around enough to cover.

Free Pick: Maryland Terps +9

Chris Scheeren / Author