The college basketball weekend concludes with a critical game in the Big Ten, as the Maryland Terrapins host the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Tipoff scheduled for 7:00 pm EST. At home, Maryland is a slight 2-point favorite with the over/under set at 138 points.
The Terrapins are approaching must-win territory. They sit at 10-10 overall and just 4-9 inside the Big Ten, putting them on the outside of the NCAA Tournament picture. The good news is that Maryland’s schedule gets easier down the stretch. The Terps will play just one ranked team in their final seven games. But they will need to win virtually all seven games to state their case to the Tournament Committee.
Meanwhile, the Golden Gophers are feeling better about their postseason hopes after beating Purdue earlier this week. The win improved Minnesota’s record to 13-7 overall and 6-7 in conference play. Finishing .500 in the Big Ten should be enough to make the NCAA Tournament, giving the Gophers a chance to reach that mark with a win on Sunday.
Here Comes the Cavalry
Minnesota has relied on Marcus Carr to carry them for much of the season. But the team’s supporting cast has started to produce more consistently, especially in the win over Purdue when the Gophers had four players score in double figures. Minnesota has eight players who average at least eight points per game, including center Liam Robbins, who has two double-doubles in his last three games. Senior Brandon Johnson is also stepping up with four straight games in double figures.
Of course, Carr is capable of carrying the Gophers for long stretches. He averages just under 20 points per game while also dishing out 5.4 assists per game. After scoring only six points against Purdue last month, he bounced back with 19 points and five assists in Minnesota’s win on Thursday. Even when he’s the focal point of the opposing defense, Carr is capable of doing plenty of damage.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
As expected, Maryland’s offense has taken a considerable step back this season. Unfortunately for the Terps, things aren’t getting much better in that area. Maryland has failed to score more than 65 points in six straight games, going 2-4 during that stretch. Even with three players who average at least 12 points per game, the Terrapins have struggled to find consistency.
In past years, Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins have played complementary roles as strong outside shooters. But both have struggled to find game-to-game consistency, especially since they are now the focal point of the offense. The Terrapins are also a consistent post presence, relying mostly on their ability to drive and kick despite shooting 34.7% from the perimeter as a team.
The Redemption Tour Continues
On Thursday, the Golden Gophers redeemed themselves for a lopsided loss to Purdue earlier this season, and they are poised to do the same on Sunday. Maryland beat Minnesota 63-49 last month, with Carr scoring 25 points but the rest of the Gophers providing little help. Minnesota is in a much better place right now, whereas the Terrapins are in a tailspin. Bet on Minnesota to win and cover the 2-point spread on Sunday.
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