ACC Betting Preview: Maryland Terrapins at North Carolina Tar Heels

Maryland Terrapins at #6 North Carolina Tar Heels
Dean E. Smith Center – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: North Carolina -20
Current Line: North Carolina -17 1/2
Opening Total: 149 1/2
Current Total 150 1/2
Opening Money Line: UNC -6400 / Maryland +3600
Current Money Line: UNC -6400 / Maryland +3600

North Carolina hosts Maryland Wednesday night in a must win game for the Tar Heels. UNC is a 17.5 point favorite.

Tuesday night the Duke Blue Devils took care of business at Wake Forest 79-71. Now if the 25-4 North Carolina Tar Heels can beat heavy underdog Maryland at home Wednesday night it will set up a winner take all battle for the ACC regular season title between Duke and Carolina Saturday night in Durham. But first things first, because if North Carolina should stumble tonight then Duke would clinch the ACC title regardless of what happens Saturday. UNC is 12-2 in conference, a half game behind Duke in the standings. The Tar Heels have won 5 games in a row since a bitter 85-84 home defeat to Duke a few weeks ago. North Carolina won at Virginia 54-51 Saturday.

Maryland is 16-12 overall and 6-8 in the ACC. Barring a major run in the ACC tournament, the Terrapins appear headed to the NIT.  Maryland has alternated losses and wins in the last 7 games. The Terps lost at Georgia Tech 63-61 Saturday.

North Carolina leads the series 116-57 against Maryland, including 55-17 in Chapel Hill. Maryland has won 4 of the last 7 meetings in the series, but Carolina has won 8 of the last 12. The Tar Heels won 83-74 earlier in February in College Park.

Maryland is coached by Mark Turgeon. The Terrapins have wins over Colorado, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Boston College, and Miami. Maryland has losses to Alabama, Iona, Illinois, NC State, Florida St, Temple, Duke twice, Miami, and Virginia.

North Carolina is coached by Roy Williams. The Tar Heels have additional losses to UNLV, Kentucky, and Florida St. All losses are to teams expected to be high seeds in the NCAA tournament. UNC has wins over Michigan St, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Evansville, Long Beach St, Texas, Boston College, Miami twice, Virginia Tech, North Carolina St twice, Georgia Tech,  Wake Forest, Virginia twice, and Clemson.

Maryland is being outscored 70-68 this season. The Terrapins are shooting 42.6% from the field and 33.9% from 3 point range. Maryland makes 66.9% from the free throw line. The Terps average 36.4 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +1.8. Maryland averages 10.5 assists, 13.3 turnovers, 4.1 steals and 4.3 blocks a game on defense. Terrapin opponents are shooting 42.6% from the field and 33.1% from 3 point range. Maryland forces 11 turnovers a game.

Maryland guard Terrell Stoglin averages 21.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists a game. He is 7th in the nation in scoring, and makes 37.4% from 3 point range. Sean Mosley averages 10.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal a game to lead the team. He is shooting 40.7% from 3 point range. James Padgett averages 9 points and 5.7 rebounds a game to lead the team. Nick Faust, Alex Len, Pe’Shon Howard, and Ashton Pankey also contribute to the scoring.  Len averages 5.4 rebounds and leads the Terps in blocks with 2.2 a game. Howard averages 3.7 assists a game to lead the team. He is out for the season with a knee injury. Maryland is a very young team with 11 freshmen and sophomores.

North Carolina is outscoring opponents 82-66 this season. The Tar Heels are #3 in the country in scoring. North Carolina shoots 46.2% from the field and 34.8% from 3 point range. UNC makes 66.8% from the free throw line. The Tar Heels lead the nation in rebounding with 45.9 rebounds a game, with a rebounding margin of +11.4. The Tar Heels average 17.6 assists, 12 turnovers, 7 steals, and 6.2 blocks a game. UNC is 5th nationally in assists. UNC opponents are shooting 38.6% from the field, and 31.6% from 3 point range. The Heels force 13.4 turnovers a game on defense.

UNC forward Harrison Barnes averages 17.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1.1 steals a game. He makes 40.6% of his 3 point attempts. Tyler Zeller averages 15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1.1 steals, and 1.4 blocks a game. John Henson averages 14 points, 10.4 rebounds to lead the team, 1.4 assists, and 3.1 blocks a game to lead the team.  Reggie Bullock averages 8.3 points, and 4.8 rebounds a game. He makes 39.1% of his three pointers. Kendall Marshall leads the Heels in assists with 9.7 a game and  in steals with 1.3 a game. Dexter Strickland is out for the season with a torn ACL. Guard Leslie McDonald is out indefinitely with a knee injury.

North Carolina is 15-13 ATS and the total is 13-15 this season. Maryland is 11-12-1 and the total is 12-12. Maryland is 6-1 ATS in the last 7 against UNC. Sixteen of the last twenty one games have gone over in the series. The Terrapins are 5-0 ATS after a straight up loss, 6-2 after failing to cover, 5-2 as an underdog, 36-17-3 in Wednesday games, 7-15-1 against teams with winning records, 4-11 in road games, 3-9 as a road underdog, and 3-10 in road games versus teams with winning home records. The Tar Heels are 4-1 ATS as a favorite, against teams with winning records, overall, and in ACC games.

Though clearly North Carolina is the better team here, I could easily see them getting a huge lead but allowing a back door cover. If North Carolina is up big in the second half, Coach Williams could call off the dogs in order to get his players some rest before the showdown with Duke Saturday. I like Maryland to cover the huge number.

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