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Pick on the Spread for Maryland-Minnesota on January 7

VSiN’s Greg Peterson goes over the best betting options for Sunday’s college basketball matchup between the Maryland Terrapins and Minnesota Golden Gophers

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NCAA Basketball: Maine at Minnesota Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The most upstart team in the college basketball betting sphere this season has been the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who leads the nation in cover percentage at 13-1 against the spread entering Sunday’s home game against the Maryland Terrapins.

Maryland Terrapins vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1.5, 135.5)

The efficiency of point guard Elijah Hawkins, who is second in the country among qualifying players in assists per game, has been a big reason why Minnesota has been so successful at winning games and covering spreads.

A season ago, Hawkins lead qualifying Division I players in turnovers per game with more than four while playing for Howard in the MEAC and has decreased that number this season, averaging 8.7 points and 7.7 assists with just 2.6 turnovers per game.

Hawkins and the rest of the Golden Gophers face a Maryland defense that entered the weekend 27th in the nation’s top in points allowed on a per possession basis, but are struggling along the perimeter both on offense and on defense.

Maryland on defense entered Saturday 267th in the country in 3-point shooting defense, allowing opponents to shoot 35.1% from 3-point range, but is allowing opponents to take just 25.6% of their field goal attempts from 3-point range in games played away from home, the third-lowest 3-point shot rate in the country.

The balance of Minnesota should exploit this as the team is making 36.8% of their 3’s, which ranked 55th in America entering Saturday and get 32.2% of their points from made 3-pointers, which is 131st among Division I teams in highest percentage of points that come from made 3’s.

As first the Maryland offense, the team’s 23.6% 3-point shooting percentage away from home ranks 351st in the nation and overall is 152nd in points scored on a per possession basis, with the offense taking a serious nose dive away from College Park.

Maryland is averaging 25.3 points fewer per 100 possessions in games played either on the road or in a neutral court environment, entering Saturday 335th in points scored on a per possession basis away from home.

With the Minnesota having a rather large home and road splits of their own, surrendering 27.9 points fewer at home than away from home, the Terrapins will dive into a gopher hole on Sunday and will not come back with a win or a cover against the spread.

The Play: Minnesota -1.5