January 2, 2018
There is one pick today.
Take Penn State +4 spread (buy the half point) against Maryland for 3% of the bankroll.
The Maryland Terps have been bitten hard by the injury bug over the last week, losing both Justin Jackson and Ivan Benders to season-ending injuries, but the loss of Jackson was arguably the biggest blow since he was (at the time) the team's leading rebounder and primary inside scorer. Kevin Hueter and Anthony Cowan will have to pick up a bulk of the scoring load, as they are currently the only proven scorers on a roster that now just includes 8 scholarship players. It could take the Terps some time to figure out the chemistry of their new rotation and we saw glimpses of that in their last contest where they were down 6 at the half against UMBC, before rallying in the second half and could be in for a battle against a very good (and much improved) Penn State team tonight.
A big reason for the improved success of Penn State has been their experience as well as their defense. They are a very experienced team with a lot of upper classmen on their roster and that experience has translated nicely to their play on the court. Their defense has been holding teams to just an average of 64.2 points per game on 40.8% shooting, highlighted by their ability to clog the passing lanes and force turnovers. So far this season the Nittany Lions have already created 250 turnovers, including 141 steals. They average 9.4 per contest, which is good for 11th in the country. Against an offense that has been plagued by injury and has been looking out of sorts recently, we could see a big defensive outing from the Penn State players tonight.
This is going to be an extremely difficult game for the Terps as the loss of Jackson leaves them without a proven big on the inside and could nullify their advantage on the boards. If Penn State can establish a presence down low, it will make things that much tougher on Maryland in this matchup. Even if they decide against playing in the post, Tony Carr will be the best player on the court for this contest. In their most recent victory, Carr led the team in scoring with 21 points on 7 of 9 shooting in just 18 minutes on the court. That is how efficient of a scorer he is. On the season Nittany Lions average 78.4 points per game on 46.8 percent shooting from the field. They are also extremely efficient from beyond the arc, shooting just under 39% from long-range. On paper it appears that Penn State simply has more ways to be effective in this game and hence should come away with the outright victory. Even if they happen to fall short, we don't believe it will be by more than a bucket, which makes getting the points could prove to be valuable tonight.
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