Huskies vs. Maryland March Madness Betting Preview: Huskies Looking For Another Miracle Run
The 10th-seeded Maryland Terrapins square off with the seventh-seeded Connecticut Huskies in a first-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament East Region on Saturday. The game will be played at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind., with the winner advancing to face either No. 2 seed Alabama or No. 15 seed Iona in the second round on Monday.
Maryland (16-13) has been in a bit of a slump of late, dropping three of its last five betting games. The Terrapins were eighth in the Big Ten standings for the regular season, then split two games in the Big Ten tournament, beating Michigan State but falling to top-seeded Michigan.
Coach Mark Turgeon took the Terrapins to the 2019 NCAA Tournament, where they advanced to the second round, as well as three straight appearances from 2015 to 2017. Maryland has won at least one game in 13 of its last 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, dating back to 1998.
Connecticut has quite an NCAA Tournament history as well, though this is the Huskies’ first appearance in the Big Dance since 2016. The 2014 squad was a No. 7 seed and made a run to a national title, while the 2011 Huskies won the national title as a No. 3 seed.
Coach Dan Hurley’s Huskies (15-7) finished third in the Big East this season with an 11-6 mark. Connecticut fell to Creighton in the semifinals of the Big East tournament, which snapped the team’s five-game winning streak.
The college basketball odds have Connecticut as a three-point favorite in this one, with the over/under set at 130.
Maryland Terrapins vs. Connecticut Huskies Odds by BetUs
|Maryland||+3 (-110)||129½ (-110)||+140|
|Connecticut||-3 (-110)||129½ (-110)||-160|
The Terrapins aren’t the prettiest team in the tournament, but they’ll fight any opponent to the end. Even playing in a top league like the Big Ten, Maryland is allowing just 65.0 points per game this season, good for second in the conference.
Offensively, the Terrapins have a pair of scorers in junior guards Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins. Ayala leads the way with 14.9 points per game, hitting a team-best 52 3-pointers.
Wiggins is scoring 14.0 points per game while hitting 48 3-pointers on the season. Both players are deadly from the free-throw line as well and love to draw fouls. Ayala is hitting 83.1%, while Wiggins is hitting 79.2% from the charity stripe.
Sophomore forward Donta Scott is the Terrapins’ top rebounder at 6.1 per game while also scoring 10.9 points per game. He can step outside as well, hitting 46 3-pointers on the season.
Maryland plays as a team offensively, with senior guard Darryl Morsell leading the way with 2.8 assists but all five starters averaging at least 1.8 assists. Morsell is scoring 9.0 points per game as well, but his biggest impact is on the defensive end, where he was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Hitting Their Stride
The Huskies have had some trouble with consistency this season, partially due to COVID-19, which postponed three games in January, and partially due to injuries. Leading scorer James Bouknight has played just 14 games this season after he had to sit out with an elbow injury for much of January.
Bouknight, a sophomore guard, is fully recovered, though, and scoring 19.0 points and grabbing 5.7 rebounds per game. He does have a tendency to be out of control at times, averaging nearly three turnovers a contest. When he gets picked in the next NBA Draft, he’ll have to tighten up his play.
Junior guard R.J. Cole is scoring 12.3 points per game and leading the Huskies with 4.4 assists per contest. He’s connected on 36 3-pointers this season, which is tied with senior forward Tyler Polley for the team lead.
Junior guard Tyrese Martin and senior forward Isaiah Whaley provide interior strength, with Martin averaging 10.7 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game. Whaley is averaging 8.1 points and 6.1 rebounds, but he’s an intimidator on the defensive end, recording 2.6 blocks per game.
Both of these teams can get down and dirty on the defensive end, making it difficult for their opponents to get comfortable. Connecticut is holding opponents to 64.6 points per game, with Whaley available to stop most players that drive to the hoop.
Expect a low-scoring affair as both of these teams try to win it on the defensive end. Although the Huskies have the top scorer in the game in Bouknight, the Terrapins have the better team.