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Maryland

at

Minnesota

College Basketball Pick

1/28/17

It may not seem like it but conference play isn't even halfway over with most teams still having at least 10 more games left in the regular season. In the Big Ten, there will be plenty more matchups similar to this one with Minnesota hosting Maryland. With the conference being so deep, that's the kind of thing that will happen almost every night, with most games being fairly competitive.

The Terps are at the top of the conference with their lone loss surprisingly coming at home against Nebraska. Either way, things are about to get a little more difficult with this one and then a trip to Ohio State before hosting Purdue. This team could easily go from top of the standings to middle of the pack in the matter of a week.

But this is far from a free win for Minnesota, as Maryland has recently showed it can play away from home in wins over Michigan, Illinois and Iowa. The Gophers are on a bit of a rough stretch themselves and would like to start up another winning streak, similar to earlier in conference play. The good news is they have the schedule to do that, but it'll take a win in this game.

At the moment, both teams are set in the 8- or 9-seed range for the NCAA tournament, which makes the two games they play against each other vital in getting to the 7- or 6-seed line. Both teams have proven to show balance in the early going and that's a main reason for their success. The main difference is that Minnesota is led by its defense with a deficient offense, while Maryland has had success on both ends of the court. That means to win this game, the Gophers' defense will need to come through against Melo Trimble and company.

The difference between this year's Maryland team and last year's is that they have someone that can actually handle the ball other than Trimble. Freshman Anthony Cowan has come in and played a vital role for the Terps averaging almost 30 minutes on the season and over 15 points per game in the last couple weeks. The biggest hole in this Maryland team comes in the frontcourt with Damonte Dodd and Ivan Bender both being underwhelming on the offensive end. So far, the Terps have been able to rely on their guards and shooting from guys like Trimble, Justin Jackson and Kevin Huerter. But that's not always going to work, especially on the road against a Minnesota defense that has great field goal defense and leads the conference in block percentage.

The Gophers may not get much scoring down low either, but Reggie Lynch, Eric Curry and Jordan Murphy have proven to be great defenders in the paint. And if Minnesota can win in the paint, that would lead to Maryland needing to hit shots to win. The Gophers have a viable backcourt as well with Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer, but also underrated Amir Coffey at the three spot. Coffey's athleticism and length can be huge in a game like this and it's been seen in recent outings, scoring 19 against Wisconsin and Ohio State and 17 at Northwestern. He also has the ability to guard a guy like Huerter or Jackson on the perimeter, which will limit Maryland's open three-point looks.

Maryland has a better record, but home-court advantage is huge and Minnesota gets that edge playing at The Barn. These teams are fairly even with the Gophers able to match whatever the Terps throw at them.

Our Pick - Minnesota by 15

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