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Friday College Basketball Odds & Picks: Penn-Princeton, Maryland-Iowa

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Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Toussaint

Friday nights were once owned by the Ivy League and the MAAC, but thanks to savvy television executives, we’re seeing an influx of power programs duking it out on national TV.

I’ll tip my hat to the Ivy League by providing analysis for Penn-Princeton, but I’m happy to welcome a Big Ten matchup between two tournament-bound teams.

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Penn at Princeton

  • Spread: Penn-2
  • Over/Under: 144.5
  • Time: 5 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPNU

The Ancient Eight is a tricky league to bet on. Thanks to Friday-Saturday night back-to-backs and formidable home court advantages, amateur gamblers have taken their lumps trying to properly handicap the Ivy League.

On the surface, Steve Donahue’s Penn team (7-5, 0-1) is just another contender in the middle of the Ivy League pack. And thanks to the quirks of the league’s schedule, the Quakers will be facing Princeton for the second time in the last week. The Tigers handed Penn its worst home loss of the season six days ago, a 78-64 blowout at the Palestra.

The recency bias that should be attached to this game is pretty clear. If Princeton can easily handle Penn on the road, why would they be a home dog just a week later?

Penn has been excellent away from home this season, sporting a 4-2 ATS record with straight-up wins over Alabama and Providence. In addition to those marquee wins, Penn has proven to be a dangerous team offensively. They connect on 54.4% of their two-point shots (29th) and sink 9.4 three-pointers per game (27th), all while sharing the ball effectively (16.3 apg, 19th).

From a personnel standpoint, the inside-outside tandem of AJ Brodeur and Jordan Dingle makes it difficult to limit the Quakers offensively. Brodeur is one of only three Ivy League players who have cracked the top 100 of the NCAA’s Win Score metric and Dingle headlined one of Penn’s best recruiting class ever.

Princeton caught Penn on a bad shooting night in their last go-around (26-71 from the field, 3-23 from 3-point range), but its abysmal defensive rankings (opponent’s are shooting 48.4%, 336th) should catch up to them in this revenge spot.

Pick: Penn -2

Maryland at Iowa

  • Spread: Maryland-2
  • Over/Under: 147
  • Time: 7 p.m. EST
  • TV: FS1

Iowa is approaching Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde territory this season. When the Hawkeyes hit the road they’re just 4-4 SU and 3-5 ATS. On the flip side, they’re 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS at Carver–Hawkeye Arena.

This home game against Maryland can’t come soon enough for Fran McCaffery. The Hawkeyes have dropped consecutive road games in-conference to Penn State and Nebraska in the past week. Iowa’s last loss demonstrated their over-reliance upon the 3-point shot. The Hawkeyes shot a shockingly poor 4-for-33 from deep.

Staying on theme for this game, Maryland has been absolutely dominant at home (10-0 SU, 6-4 ATS) and fairly ho-hum away from College Park (3-2 SU, 1-4 ATS). They also share a common opponent in Penn State. Both Iowa and Maryland lost by single digits.

Double clicking into the box scores for both the Hawkeyes and Terrapins it’s easy to see how rebounding will determine this matchup. The Terps average 42.1 rebounds per game (6th) and do a tremendous job keeping opponents off the offensive glass.

Iowa will look to Luka Garza and its frontcourt to crash the offensive boards in the event they struggle to connect on their long range attempts. The All-American candidate has posted five double-double in his last six games and will need a big game against Maryland’s future pro Jalen Smith.

I’d look for Iowa’s role players to shoot better at home and rely upon Garza down the stretch as they grab their best win of the season.

Pick: Iowa +2

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