The No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes take on the No. 15 Maryland Terrapins in a key Big Ten battle. Both teams are tied with 6-3 conference records. The winner would move a half-game back of first-place Illinois and Michigan State. The loser would drop to fifth place in the conference. These teams have met 10 times in their school’s histories, and Maryland owns a 6-4 series edge.
- Opening Lines: Maryland -5.5 (at FanDuel)
- Current Line: Maryland -5.5
- O/U: 145.5
- Location: XFINITY Center, College Park, MD
- Start Time: Thursday, January 30th — 8:30 ET
- Last Meeting: January 10th, 2020 — Iowa def. Maryland 67-49
The Iowa Hawkeyes (15-5, 6-3 conf) enter this game on a five-game winning streak. However, the schedule makers were not so kind to them. This is Iowa’s second game of a three-game stretch played over seven days. They just beat Wisconsin 68-62 at home on Monday night. As is the case with most Big Ten teams, the Hawkeyes have yet to find their footing on the road. While they are 5-1 at home in conference games, they are just 1-2 on the road. This includes a six-point loss at Nebraska, who are currently 13th out of 14 conference teams. Iowa has fared well against ranked teams, going 4-2 thus far. Head coach Fran McCaffery deserves a lot of praise for the job he has done this year. Since senior guard Jordan Bohannon opted to redshirt in December because of a hip injury, Iowa has gone 7-2.
One of Iowa’s biggest strengths is their ability to take care of the basketball. They rank fourth in the nation with a 1.49 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Hawkeyes know how to score, too, as their 79.6 PPG ranks 27th in the country. Iowa possesses arguably the best big man in the country, Luka Garza. Garza just turned in a herculean 21-point, 18-rebound game against Wisconsin. He is a double-double machine, averaging 23.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per game on the season. In Bohannon’s absence, guards Joe Wieskamp, CJ Fredrick, Joe Toussaint, and Connor McCaffery have all filled in admirably. Fredrick leads the way, shooting an astounding 47.8% from three-point range.
The Maryland Terrapins (16-4, 6-3 conf) enter on a three-game winning streak of their own. They lost their first three conference road games, but they have since won their last two. However, those two wins did not come without some drama. Against bottom-dweller Northwestern, the Terrapins got behind 15 points before mounting their comeback. In their last game against Indiana, they trailed 76-70 with 1:27 remaining. However, a 7-0 run to end the game allowed them to steal a victory at Assembly Hall. Maryland will enjoy the friendly confines of the XFINITY Center where they are undefeated on the season, and where they have won four conference home games by an average of nine points.
The Terrapins also have one of the best big men in the conference on their roster. Jalen Smith has played exceptionally well of late, averaging 27 points and 11 rebounds in their last two wins. Anthony Cowan Jr. is perhaps the league’s best point guard outside of Cassius Winston. He has averaged 15.5 points per game to go along with 4.3 assists. Maryland is an excellent defensive team. They rank 25th in the country allowing 61.8 PPG and are 27th in the country with a 38.8 field goal percentage allowed.
- Hawkeyes are 5-0-3 ATS in their last eight games following a straight-up win.
- Hawkeyes are 4-0-3 ATS in their last seven games against a team with a winning straight up record.
- Hawkeyes are 7-1-3 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
- Terrapins are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four games overall.
- Terrapins are 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games.
- Over is 5-0 in the Hawkeyes’ last five road games following three or more consecutive home games.
- Under is 8-3 in the Hawkeyes’ last 11 overall.
- Under is 5-2 in the Terrapins’ last seven overall.
- Under is 5-1 in the Terrapins’ last six home games.
This is a very important game in terms of conference standings and NCAA tournament seeding. It will be fascinating to watch the head-to-head matchup between Garza and Smith. If one can get the other in foul trouble, it would give their team a massive advantage. It’s been difficult all year long to win on the road in the Big Ten, and it will be no different for Iowa at Maryland. Iowa has not played well on the road against conference opponents, while Maryland is yet to lose a home game. None of Maryland’s four losses on the year can be considered bad losses, as all four of their defeats came against teams ranked in the top-35 of KenPom.
I do not see much value in the -5.5 point spread — oddsmakers factored in the difficulty of winning on the road. However, recent trends have concerned me about Maryland, and they suggest that the over has value. Though the Terrapins have been a good defensive team all year, they have struggled mightily in their last two games. They allowed Northwestern to shoot 50% from the floor, including 7-16 (43.8%) from three. Indiana shot 52.6% from the floor and 9-19 (47.4%) from three. Although those two performances came on the road, that is not a good recipe against an Iowa team that can score effectively.
When Maryland wins, it’s no secret: they shot the ball well. In their last two wins, they have shot 40.3% from three. In their losses, they have averaged 27.3% from three-point range. This game against Iowa is a rematch of a 67-49 Hawkeyes win three weeks ago. In that game, Maryland shot 32.7% from the field and just 4-22 (18.2%) from three. I do not expect them to shoot so poorly at home, while their recent defensive struggles may carry over into this one. Oddsmakers likely set the total so low because of how ugly the first game was. However, there should be some regression to the mean in terms of both teams’ shooting percentages. I expect both teams to get into the low 70s at a minimum, causing the total to go over.