2021 NCAA Tournament Odds, Picks, Predictions: Alabama vs. Maryland Betting Preview (March 22)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Maryland guard Eric Ayala.
- The Alabama Crimson Tide are favored over the Maryland Terrapins in second-round NCAA Tournament action on Monday night.
- The Tide survived a scare from Iona in the first round, while the Terps upset a scary seven-seed in UConn.
- Collin Wilson gives his full breakdown and Alabama vs. Maryland pick below.
Alabama vs. Maryland Odds
Despite a one-point lead at halftime against Iona, Alabama survived and advanced past the first round at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Tide shot 31% from beyond the arc to further their regression to the season mark of 35%. The Gaels forced 15 turnovers against Alabama’s transition offense, but a poor shooting mark allowed the second-seeded Crimson Tide to advance.
The Alabama offensive regression continues to be saved by one of the best defensive units in the nation.
Maryland was the Big Ten team that teetered on the bubble.
The Terps crushed a UConn team that was playing its best basketball of the season. Mark Turgeon’s defense kept star James Bouknight silenced, as he shot just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc.
A 10-0 run by Maryland late in the first half would be the last push for the Huskies, as the Terrapins dominated the remainder of the game. Now, Turgeon is playing for his third Sweet 16 ever and his second with Maryland.
When Alabama Has the Ball
The Crimson Tide continued to struggle against opponents that thrive in transition defense and covering the perimeter. Iona was a top-25 team in defending the perimeter and held Alabama to minimal points from the outside.
Although the Gaels own a middling turnover rate defense, the Crimson Tide committed 14 turnovers and were blocked on eight shot attempts.
Alabama will continue to struggle against defenses that force bad perimeter shots while clogging the passing lanes, and Maryland has that exact formula on defense.
Maryland's Darryl Morsell lost his only brother, Terrell, when he was eight years old.
He credits his defensive tenacity and toughness to him and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year this season 🙏 pic.twitter.com/OrMxSwXnWP
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 21, 2021
Darryl Morsell is playing like a man possessed on the defensive side of the ball. Per Torvik, Maryland ranks seventh in defensive efficiency since Feb. 1, led by a defensive effective field goal rate rank in the top 20.
Not only is the Maryland defense superb in transition when Nate Oats’ squad is pushing up the floor, but the Terrapins also do not foul. A defensive free-throw rate in the top 40 for Maryland suggests Alabama will not be getting to the line for free points.
When Maryland Has the Ball
How will the Maryland offense continue to generate enough points for victory? Morsell’s defense on Bouknight gave the Terrapins offensive flexibility to find the hot hand.
Eric Ayala had that hot hand against UConn, but a number of long-distance shooters are capable of catching fire, including Donta Scott and Aaron Wiggins.
Something something something… Maryland inbound plays.
Darryl Morsell -> Aaron Wiggins pic.twitter.com/m9arag0vgH
— Wes Brown (@W_Brown21) March 20, 2021
Maryland is shooting 3-pointers at a higher rate than recent Turgeon teams.
That plays right into the strength of the Alabama defense that is seventh in 3-point defense and 21st in steal rate. The Crimson Tide will have plenty of success in limiting the Terrapins’ shot quality.
Betting Analysis & Pick
An interesting development in the pandemic March Madness is the use of different buildings to host these games. Generally, teams show up to their cities and play two games at the assigned arena.
Maryland beat UConn in Mackey Arena, while Alabama beat Iona in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The Crimson Tide and Terrapins will face each other in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. After going under in the first half and full game against Iona, Alabama may have issues in yet another new arena.
Despite an offensive adjusted tempo rate of second in the nation, Alabama will be harassed by the Maryland defense in transition.
The Crimson Tide’s shooting slump from long distance is not projected to get any better against a Terrapins defense that is playing its best ball of the season. The low defensive free-throw rate for Maryland points to a low-scoring game.
The projection on this game is Alabama -5 with a total of 136. Any Maryland number at 5.5 or better is suggested in this defensive struggle that will go under the total.
Pick: Maryland +5.5 or better | Under 139 or better