Wednesday College Basketball Best Bets: Maryland Bounce-Back Spot?

Written By Eli Hershkovich on December 14, 2022
College Basketball Best Bets

Despite a fairly light college basketball odds board until Saturday’s jam-packed slate, there’s still a top-25 showdown between No. 16 UCLA and No. 20 Maryland on Wednesday evening. Let’s break down my college basketball best bets for this contest.

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UCLA at Maryland: Spread, Moneyline, Total

Both programs reside in the top 20 of my college basketball power rankings. Be sure to subscribe to Outside Shots on TheLines Podcast Network, as Scott Phillips and I break down everything college hoops betting, including this contest.

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Will The Real Maryland Please Stand Up?

After the Terps established themselves as one of the more surprising teams over the first month of the season, they’ve dropped two straight. Granted, one loss was against the top-10 Vols. However, some bettors may be skeptical of whether or not Maryland’s hot start is sustainable.

I’m not one of them. Not only did the Terrapins reel in an upgrade on the sidelines in ex-Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, but their roster construction also showcases a sustainable four-out, one-in offense and a much-improved defense.

On top of that, they’re coming off a 2-of-24 shooting performance against Tennessee. Chalk that up as well-anticipated regression if you’d like, yet I view it as unpredictable variance. Maryland’s lineup possesses a quartet of starters who are at least 34.0% 3-point marksmen in their respective collegiate careers.

Enter UCLA, which ranks No. 353 across DI in regards to high-quality perimeter shots allowed (per ShotQuality). Mick Cronin’s defenses are always tenacious — exhibited by their fifth-ranked takeaway rate (25.5%) — yet they’ve feasted on predominantly inferior competition thus far.

Couple that with the Terps failing to display many turnover issues to date, and they’re in a position to rebound offensively. That’s especially the case if their open 3-pointers start to fall again.

Look for 6-foot-9 sophomore Julian Reese to exploit the Bruins’ soft post-up defense as well. Reese’s physicality on the block has taken a major leap from his freshman campaign — denoted by his 17th-ranked 2-point field goal clip (75.0%).

Related: 2023 March Madness Futures Odds

Limiting Cronin’s Ball-Screen Attack

When UCLA isn’t profiting in transition, it’s employed the seventh-highest pick-and-roll frequency in the country. Whether that sets up Wooden Award candidate Jaime Jaquez () or five-star frosh Adem Bona, the Bruins’ bigs are fairly efficient via that play design. It opens up its shooting from behind the arc, too.

Nevertheless, Maryland has been very effective at stymying pick-and-roll-oriented offenses. If that trend continues, expect the Terps’ own fast-break unit to reap the benefits.

College Basketball Best Bets Conclusion

I bet Mayland pick’em on Tuesday, which you’ll find in our Discord betting channel. I’d wager on Willard’s bunch up to -1 (-110). Look for the Terps to respond to this motivational spot at home after tallying just 0.83 PPP in their last two games — in what could be a look-ahead matchup for the Bruins with Kentucky on deck.

Good luck with your own college basketball best bets.

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