Maryland Terrapins vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Pick 1/10/20
Maryland Terrapins (13-2 SU, 7-8 ATS) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (10-5 SU, 9-5-1 ATS)
When: Friday, January 10, 7 p.m.
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa
Point Spread: MD -1.5/IOWA +1.5 (Bookmaker)
Total: O/U 146.5
Last Time Out:
Maryland defeated Ohio State 67-55; Iowa lost 76-70 to Nebraska.
Scouting the Terrapins:
With Ohio State now in the rearview mirror, it’s safe to say that Maryland has proven that it can play at a high level without the Mitchells. Now the Terps have to avoid getting caught on a brutal swing through the next two weeks that will see them venture into the Central Time Zone three times and play a road game at Indiana, good for four road games in five over the next 2½ weeks. Such is life when you’re in a conference you don’t geographically belong in, but Maryland is tough enough to handle this if it can stay focused on the task at hand.
As usual with Maryland, that means defense and rebounding. The Terrapins average just under 42 boards a game, good for sixth in the nation, and Jalen Smith is a large part of grabbing boards and limiting Maryland opponents to one shot. At the offensive end, Anthony Cowan was huge for the Terps with 20 against Ohio State, and the Maryland defense limited Ohio State to 31.3 percent shooting and 18.5 percent from the arc. Considering Iowa shot it even worse from the arc against Nebraska, which doesn’t play defense anywhere near as well as Maryland does, the Terps have to feel confident on the defensive end.
Scouting the Hawkeyes:
Losing to Nebraska is bad in either football or basketball this academic year, and Iowa’s coming off a really ugly loss to the Cornhuskers. There is a rather obvious reason; however, the Hawkeyes don’t have the bodies needed to play a full 40 minutes at this stage. Iowa is down to seven scholarship players after a stress fracture knocked C.J. Frederick out of action, robbing the Hawkeyes of his shooting until around mid-February. That means Luka Garza has to be even bigger in the paint, and he was already Iowa’s most important player, averaging 22.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
The Hawkeyes have to find some way to survive this stretch and keep their heads above water until they start to get healthy. The way they tried to do it in Lincoln didn’t work, as four of five Iowa starters played at least 35 minutes in the loss. Things could get ugly if the Hawkeyes try the same thing against Maryland.
Contrasting styles. Iowa has been all about the offense, while Maryland provides as stern a test as there is in the Big Ten on defense. The Hawkeyes average 80 points a game and boast the fifth-most efficient offense in the nation, but Maryland hasn’t allowed anyone to top 76 points all season, and that was at Penn State, where the Terrapins seem to have a major mental block. Iowa isn’t going to force 20 Maryland turnovers the way Penn State did, which means the Hawkeyes are going to have to use the pieces they have healthy to get good looks against Maryland’s fierce defense. It’s a pretty tall ask.
Maryland will Cover if:
The Terps don’t get caught looking ahead. Maryland is a healthier team and a more talented team. There is no reason why Maryland should drop this game unless the Terrapins are either still thinking about Ohio State or have their minds on the trip to Wisconsin that follows this one. Maryland has had three days to flush the Ohio State game, and the Terps should be well aware that they’re going to get Iowa’s best shot, but these are also college kids, so it’s never a sure thing as to whether Maryland’s minds will be entirely on Iowa at tipoff.
Iowa will Cover if:
The Hawkeyes can find a way to hit deep shots. Maryland is likely going to try one of two strategies: choke off Luka Garza and keep the ball out of the paint, or focus on keeping Garza away from his shooting spots and dare the Hawkeye shooters to try to beat them with the deep ball. The more likely option is the second one, which means Iowa is going to have to take the few opportunities that come against the best defense it has seen all year. What has to scare Iowa is that Kaleb Wesson, by all accounts every bit as good as Garza and likely better, shot 5-for-13 against Maryland and the Terrapins still managed to hold the Buckeyes to 18 percent from the arc. This is a tough challenge for Iowa, even at home.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
After back-to-back comfortable wins at home against Indiana and Ohio State, Maryland is due for a letdown, but if it happens, I think it’s coming against Wisconsin, not Iowa. The Terrapins simply shouldn’t have a bad game against a team with only seven scholarship players who are actually healthy enough to suit up, and certainly not when that team just went to Lincoln, possibly the easiest road trip in the Big Ten this season, and managed to lose to Nebraska.
Iowa is likely to be itself again in February, but it’s January right now, and the Hawkeyes are sinking fast while Maryland is hitting its stride. Give me the Terrapins here.
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