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Maryland vs. UConn: NCAA Tournament First Round Picks


Maryland vs. UConn: NCAA Tournament First Round PicksMaryland vs. UConn: NCAA Tournament First Round PicksDarryl Morsell #11 of the Maryland Terrapins. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP

Two former champions meet in the NCAA first round when the 10-seed Maryland Terrapins face the 7-seed UConn Huskies, with some bad blood between the coaches to spice things up. Keep on reading for my analysis and my NCAAB First Round pick for this game.

Maryland Terrapins vs. Connecticut Huskies

Saturday, March 20, 2021 – 7:10 PM ET at Mackey Arena

The First Four game between UCLA and Michigan State is getting a great deal of attention as the two blue bloods meet for a berth in the Round of 64. However, Saturday’s 10-7 game in the East Region also promises to be a fun one.

Two former NCAA champions meet as No. 10 seed Maryland faces No. 7 seed UConn. Adding to the excitement, there is past bad blood between the two coaches.

In the November 2015 Cancun Classic, Maryland, coached then and now by Mark Turgeon, blew out Rhode Island, which was coached by current UConn skipper Dan Hurley. Up by 21, Maryland was still shooting threes and taking time-outs in the final two minutes. Hurley took issue and exchanged words with Turgeon during a late time out and again in the postgame handshake line. Hurley was more complementary of Turgeon this week, calling him one of “the great coaches in college, he’s done it at a high level for a really long time, and I’ve got a lot of respect for this team.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnOehn7d05Q?start=1279&feature=oembed]

Playing in the toughest conference in the country, Maryland struggled to start the Big Ten season, standing at 10-10, 4-9 in early February, and in real danger of missing the tournament. The Terps appeared to right the ship, winning five straight but then finished by losing three of four. They enter the NCAA Tournament at 16-13, 9-11 in the Big Ten. It’s not as much that Maryland lost as who the losses came two, with a pair of five-point defeats to Northwestern and Penn State, who were a combined 20-29 this year, 13-25 in the Big Ten.

UConn was 8-5, 5-5 in early February but won six of seven to finish the regular season. The Huskies head to Indy at 15-7, 11-6 in the Big East.

March MadnessMarch Madness

Needing a Spark From Outside

Part of Maryland’s problem with consistency this year has come from an offense that struggles to score at times. The Terrapins averaged just 68.8 ppg, the lowest in the Big Ten. Part of that is due to a deliberate offense. Maryland is No. 301 in the country in tempo.

In order for the Terp offense to put up enough points to win, Maryland needs to hit from the outside. The Terrapins are 12-3 when they shoot .350 or better from three, and 8-1 when they shoot .380.

UConn had a four-game stretch heading into the season finale where it held opponents to 18-of-76, .237 from three, but they gave up 17-of-47, .362 in the last three games.

Getting Bouknight Back

Two words help explain UConn’s inconsistency this season: James Bouknight. The Huskies were 5-1 to start the season, as Bouknight averaged 20.3 ppg. He then hurt his elbow and missed the next eight games, as UConn went 4-4. Since his return to the floor, the Huskies have gone 6-2, and he’s resumed his role as the leading scorer. He’s averaged 18.0 ppg since rejoining the lineup and has two double-doubles.

The winner of the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Darryl Morsell, will likely guard Bouknight, and the matchup could be a key. Hurley calls Morsell “the heart and soul of that team.”

Like Maryland, UConn depends on its defense. The Huskies allow the fewest points per game in the Big East. UConn has the No. 6 offensive rebounding rate in the country, which could give the Huskies’ offense a boost.

James BouknightJames BouknightJames Bouknight #2 of the Connecticut Huskies. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

The Pick

Morsell should be able to keep Bouknight in check, which will help the rest of the Terps’ defense shut down UConn’s perimeter attack.

Maryland has been hitting threes down the stretch, knocking them down at a .358 rate in the last six games. With your college basketball picks, look for the Terps to build an early lead with outside shooting and then slow things down and pull off a first-round upset to secure a second-round game, likely against No. 2 seed Alabama.

NCAA Tournament Pick: Maryland +3 (-110) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

Maryland +3(-110)

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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.


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