Minnesota got its key win over Purdue on Tuesday and this is a perfect letdown situation, going against a Maryland team that has lost its last two. At this point, a road loss to Maryland probably doesn’t change much in terms of Minnesota’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament so it wouldn’t be surprising if it didn’t give everything. The other part is that the Terps have lost only one home Game in Big Ten play and that was last weekend against Michigan. They already dropped Purdue by 14 points and if Minnesota doesn’t bring its A-Game, this could be another blowout.
For the Golden Gophers, they’ve already had issues on the road this season, losing to Rutgers most recently but also by huge margins to the likes of Illinois and Ohio State. It doesn’t help that the Terps did what they wanted in the final 10 minutes in the first meeting, an 82-67 win. The Gophers were actually leading most of the way and then Maryland closed on a 35-15 run. If you only look at that final Scoreand that Maryland is at home for this one, most of the money will be on the Terps.
There are reasons Minnesota should compete, though, and that’s why it was leading for 30 minutes in that previous meeting. Neither one of these teams has an extreme matchup edge and that’s a positive for the road team. Maryland can usually beat inferior competition with Jalen Smith and Bruno Fernando alone, but Minnesota matches up well with Jordan Murphy, Daniel Oturu and Matz Stockman, who became a factor against Purdue with a ridiculous seven blocks. Smith led the way with 21 points in the first meeting, but that was also the most he’s scored all season.
The one thing Minnesota has to change is how it defends Anthony Cowan after he dropped 27 points, six boards and five assists in the first meeting. While the Gophers have length and size with Amir Coffey, Dupree McBrayer and Gabe Kalscheur, that didn’t matter. And similar to Smith, Cowan’s 27 points was a season high, meaning he probably won’t hit that number again. Everything kind of worked for Maryland in the final 10 minutes of the first Game, but if that doesn’t happen again, there’s no reason Minnesota can’t stay close.
Coffey could end up being the best player in this matchup with 63 points and 20 rebounds in the last two Games. In need of wins, Coffey has turned things up another notch and that’s been everything for the Gophers, something they’ve needed all season. Throw in double-double threat Murphy and Oturu, who has the body to deal with Fernando and this team has talent to beat everyone in the conference. It’s about putting it all together and they’ve done that the last couple Games. But to win on the road Stockman will have to put in big minutes again, while McBrayer and Kalscheur hit a few shots. Surprisingly, Kalschuer is just 2-for-7 from three in the last two Games and he’s by far Minnesota’s best shooter. If he can hit a couple on the road, that’d definitely be another boost.
From the outside, this looks like an easy win for Maryland if it plays its Game. However, Minnesota has the bodies to match everyone. The question is if you can trust the Gophers to continue their solid play since they’ve been one of the more inconsistent teams in the Big Ten all season, especially on the road.
Our Pick – Minnesota +7