NCAAM Preview: Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Maryland Terrapins

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights will travel to College Park, Md., on Monday night for an early-season Big Ten conference matchup with the Maryland Terrapins. Rutgers is currently 4-0 on the season after an impressive win over Syracuse in the ACC/B1G Challenge.

Maryland started the season 4-0 but dropped their most recent contest against an underrated Clemson Tigers team that is starting to turn some heads across the country. The Terrapins were slow out of the gates and never recovered.

Maryland is currently a 2.5-point favorite with the total at 138.5 points. The game tips off at 6:00 P.M. Eastern.

Steve Pikiell was the Man for the Job

For so many years, Rutgers was the laughing stock of what is now known as the “Power Six” conferences. Since hiring Steve Pikiell away from Stony Brook, there has been a steady improvement in the program, and now Rutgers is a top 25 team in the nation.

Though they have been without star guard Geo Baker for the start of the season, the Knights still have a lethal trio in Ron Harper Jr., Montez Mathis, and Jacob Young. All three players are averaging at least 16 points per game, while Harper is averaging more than 22 points per contest.

Rutgers may finally have some horses on the offensive end, but it is the defense that will make this team successful. The Scarlet Knights are 13th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency and 35th in the nation in defensive effective field goal percentage. They are also holding opponents to just 30% shooting behind the three-point line.

Rutgers is 1-2-1 against the spread so far this season, and the total has gone over in three of their four games this season. This will be their first game on the road this season.

Nice Wings, But Maryland Needs Leadership

The Terrapins returned some key players from last season but still lost Anthony Cowan and Stick Smith. The trio of Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, and Darryl Morsell make up a great core, but college basketball is all about point guard play. Ayala is good, but he is not Anthony Cowan.

This Terrapins team was smacked in the first half of their most recent game against the Clemson Tigers. Maryland couldn’t stop Clemson and could not get anything on offense right from the tip. At one point, Maryland trailed 30-12 in the first half. Clemson went through a horrific drought in the second half, but the Terrapins had already dug the hole too deep.

The Terrapins made a ton of shots early in the season against bad competition and then got smacked around by an ACC team. Don’t put a ton of stock into their shooting/offensive numbers so far this season.

The Pick

Mark Turgeon is better against Top 25 teams than his reputation suggests, but this Maryland team has some holes, and Rutgers is playing very good basketball right now. Darryl Morsell will have his hands full with Harper on the wing, but it’s Marylands shot-making ability against this defense that should push you towards a Rutgers moneyline wager. Take the Scarlet Knights to win straight up and take the under.

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