Now Is the Time to Buy Low on Maryland’s National Title Odds

Now Is the Time to Buy Low on Maryland’s National Title Odds article feature image

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Maryland Terrapins forward Bruno Fernando (23).

  • No. 21 Maryland jumped out to a great start this season and has hung in with some of college basketball's best teams so far.
  • With three Big Ten tests on the horizon, it may be a good time to bet the 100-1 Terrapins to win the national championship.

We’ve witnessed uber-talented Maryland teams falter in NCAA tournament under Mark Turgeon.

Whether it was the Terrapins’ Round of 32 loss to West Virginia in 2015, a second-half meltdown against Kansas in the Sweet 16 a year later or a first-round loss to Xavier in 2017, they’ve represented an underachiever that couldn’t wiggle past college basketball’s normally upper-echelon programs.

Are these Terrapins any different?

No. 21 Maryland has amassed a 17-5 outright record with a 12-9-1 mark against the spread, en route to generating 70-1 national title odds in early December.

But following consecutive losses before knocking off Northwestern on Tuesday, Turgeon’s unit saw its future odds dip to triple figures at most offshores site while sitting at 80-1 on our consensus sportsbook within The Action Network App. They’re 100-1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, too.

The program has dropped to roughly a No. 5 seed in March Madness on Bracket Matrix, which merges countless bracket projections. Let’s dissect the Terps’ national title futures value, as they face a critical juncture in their schedule with No. 24 Wisconsin, Nebraska, No. 17 Purdue, No. 5 Michigan and Iowa all on-deck.

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Maryland owns eight combined wins in quadrants one and two, including victories over Wisconsin and Hofstra in College Park. It has racked up a pair of tight losses to Virginia at home and Purdue on the road, too, before being dealt a 14-point blow at Michigan State.

The NCAA selection committee defines the four quadrants by the quality of the opponent from its NET ranking and the location of the game. NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool), took over the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) as the NCAA’s go-to assessment system.

NET includes in-game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin (capped at 10 points), net offensive and defensive efficiency and the quality of wins and losses (quadrants). RPI only considered wins and losses and strength of schedule. It’s unknown how much of a factor the system will have in determining seeding.

Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Maryland Terrapins guard Aaron Wiggins (2), forward Bruno Fernando (23), guard Anthony Cowan Jr. (1).

Turgeon’s squad ranks No. 22 in NET while Purdue, which has seen its title futures spike to as high as 25-1 at certain sportsbooks, stands at No. 11. The Boilermakers have matched the Terrapins in wins within quadrants one and two, and they’ll represent Maryland’s biggest obstacle to jump back in that mix.

Earning a No. 3 seed would deliver loads of value for snagging the Terps at around 100-1, and their recent two-game slide shouldn’t cause bettors to lose faith.

The Terps boast the 20th-rated Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (115.1 points per 100 possessions) despite representing the fifth-youngest team in all of college basketball. Their ability to play through the 6-foot-10 Bruno Fernando, who’s developed into one of the most underrated bigs around after deciding against entering the NBA draft, sets up their slower-paced half-court attack in a motion offense.

Fernando (14.9 points per game) owns the 12th-highest eFG% (67.0%) in the country, and he’s amassed the 22nd-highest individual defensive rebounding rate (28.1%). He’s helped Maryland manufacture the 17th-highest offensive rebounding rate and 18th-highest defensive rebounding rate as well.

Maryland’s prowess for dominating that department will not only play a critical role in taking down Wisconsin and Purdue in their respective rematches, but it’ll also need to win the battle on the glass to operate efficiently at the other end — especially come March. The Terrapins have totaled a below average 19.8% turnover rate, and their offense tends accumulate more miscues when sped up and unable to seize control of the rebounding edge.

The Spartans proved just that in East Lansing on Jan. 21, totaling 1.11 points per possession (PPP) while out-rebounding Maryland (40-38), and the Terps conceded with a season-low 0.89 PPP and eight combined turnovers between Fernando and point guard Anthony Cowan Jr.

This instance was more exception than rule, though, for a youthful core with a fairly high ceiling facing their most daunting road test to date. A critical factor when nabbing midseason national title futures is finding teams that haven’t maxed out on their potential. Maryland is a prime example, as its core rotation consists of seven underclassmen.

The 6-foot-10 freshman Jalen Smith (11.9 ppg) gives Turgeon one of the rare lineups with two back-to-the-basket pieces among the true contenders. Two-guard Eric Ayala delivers a premier floor spacer and a secondary ball handler, too.

The primary floor general? The 6-foot Cowan Jr. (17.0 ppg), who possesses the makeup of a big-game shot maker in March Madness to go along with a 26.8% assist rate. Cowan tacks on the third-highest 3-point clip (35.4%) on a team that owns the top perimeter percentage (40.1%) in Big Ten play and the 59th-highest (36.9%) overall.

Its 26th-ranked free-throw percentage (75.6%) will be critical in the big dance, too.

At the other end, Maryland’s 45th-rated Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (94.9 opponents’ points per possession) has room to grow as well, and its paced by Fernando and Smith protecting the rim. The two have guided the Terps to the 36th-highest block rate in the country, and the unit has also let up the 36th-lowest eFG% (46.9%).

Forget about Maryland’s past woes. It’s all about its present.