Maryland vs. Michigan Odds & Pick: Back the Terrapins With Key Player Returning
G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images. Pictured: Eric Ayala.
- Maryland will get a boost for Tuesday's game against No. 7 Michigan through the return of point guard Eric Ayala.
- The Wolverines are coming off their first loss of the season and will look for a similar performance against the Terps like they delivered on New Year's Eve.
- BJ Cunningham explains why Ayala's return gives Maryland betting value in this big game.
Maryland vs. Michigan Odds
Michigan looks to rebound from its first loss of the season on Tuesday when the Wolverines host Maryland.
The Terrapins lost, 84-73, in College Park the last time these two teams met on New Year’s Eve.
Since that game, Maryland has one win in Big Ten play and is struggling to score. However, the Terps do have some good news as they will be getting one of their best players back from injury on Tuesday in Eric Ayala.
Mark Turgeon says starting point guard Eric Ayala (groin injury) is going to play tomorrow vs. Michigan. Probably won't start and minutes will depend on how well he plays/conditioning.
— Emily Giambalvo (@EmilyGiam) January 18, 2021
Michigan suffered its first defeat of the season on Saturday when it was blown out on the road by Minnesota. For only the second time this season, the Wolverines were held under 1.00 points per possession.
Will the Wolverines be able to rebound and sweep the season series against Maryland?
When Maryland has the ball
The strength of this Maryland team is its offense, ranking inside the top 25 in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom. The reason for that: The Terrapins have shot the ball well this season, ranking inside the top 50 in effective field goal percentage.
The first time these two teams met, Maryland lit it up from deep, going 13-for-22 from 3-point range. The problem was it only shot 41.7% from inside the arc. The Terrapins need to improve on that number because Michigan is third in the nation in 2-point percentage allowed.
Getting its point guard back in Ayala is going to be huge for the Terrapins because he has the highest offensive rating on the team and is their quarterback on the floor. Maryland will need him and the rest of the offense to increase their level of play because it’s about to face one of the best defenses in the country.
Michigan’s defense is ranked 11th in defensive efficiency and has been dominant in Big Ten play. The Wolverines have allowed only 0.94 points per possession in Big Ten play, which is the best mark in the league. However, they did struggle against Minnesota on Saturday, allowing 1.06 points per possession to the Gophers.
Maryland was able to score when these teams first met because it exploited Michigan’s weakness on defense, which is defending the 3-point shot. If Maryland can shoot a similar percentage from 3-point range and play better defense the second time around, it will be very competitive against the Wolverines.
When Michigan has the ball
Michigan absolutely torched Maryland the first time around, putting up 1.25 points per possession.
How did the Wolverines do that? By sticking to their strengths and shooting 75% from inside the arc.
However, their strength was also their downfall in Minneapolis on Saturday, as they shot only 47.3% from 2-point range. Michigan is one of the best teams in the country at scoring close to the hoop, as it has the second-highest shooting percentage on shots at the rim, per Hoop-Math.
However, the last time these two teams met, Michigan did not shoot a high percentage from 3-point range, which was also the case on Saturday. So, if Maryland can protect the rim better than it did the first time, it could have a chance at hanging with the Wolverines.
Maryland has been one of the worst defensive teams in the Big Ten during conference play, allowing 1.10 points per possession. There really isn’t one area that the Terps are specifically struggling in, and there isn’t an area they’re excelling in.
What Maryland needs to do to win this matchup is defend a heck of a lot better around the rim than they did in the first matchup and force turnovers. Michigan turned the ball over 20 times against Minnesota on Saturday so if the Terrapins can force a similar amount, they should be in this game.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The return of Ayala is massive for the Terrapins on Tuesday, even if it is in a limited role. He scored 16 points the last time these two met, so he will provide Maryland with a much-needed boost.
I think Saturday’s game against Minnesota exposed a lot of Michigan’s flaws. Maryland does have the capabilities on both ends of the floor to exploit those flaws.
I only have Michigan projected as a -8.05 favorite, so I do think there’s some value on the Terrapins at +10.5.
Pick: Maryland +10.5 or better.