College Basketball Picks: Maryland Terrapins vs. Alabama Crimson Tide, Puerto Rico Tip Off

Maryland Terrapins vs. No. 15 Alabama Crimson Tide
Thursday, 11/17/11, 5:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN2
Opening Point Spread:  Alabama -6.5
Current Betting Line:  Alabama -7
Opening Total:  130
Current Total:  129
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Maryland Terrapins are set to face off against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Puerto Rico Thursday

Maryland is set to face its first ranked team of the season Thursday and comes off a 71-62 win over UNC Wilmington as 13.5-point home favorites.  The Terrapins opened up the Mark Turgeon era with the victory, led by sophomore Terrell Stoglin’s team-high 22 points.  It’s a youthful squad when considering that four players made their first collegiate start in the season opener.  With three games in four days in Puerto Rico, the team will be opening the 2011-12 campaign with four games in a span of eight days.  Maryland is 5-1 ATS versus Southeastern Conference opponents.

The Terrapins will be playing a lot of man-to-man defense and try to score in transition with their backcourt.  “Guard play is going to be a strength, defense and getting out in transition,” commented guard Pe’Shon Howard.  “We’ve got athletic big men who can get out and run, too, so it’s not just the guards.”  Maryland last played in a tournament in Puerto Rico in 1998 when it won the Puerto Rico Shootout.

Alabama opened its season with a pair of wins over North Florida and Oakland and will be looking for its first win against Maryland in the fourth meeting between the two schools.  “I think we’ve got a good mix with five new faces in terms of guys that are healthy right now, that we’ve had a chance to work with on the court,” commented Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant.  The program returns three starters and six players from last season’s team that advanced to the NIT championship game and finished with a 25-12 record.  Alabama is 1-7 ATS in neutral-site games.

The Crimson Tide are back to their defensive ways, allowing just 50.5 points per game through two contests, following a season that saw them limit opponents to 59.4 points on average.  Alabama is led by a trio of players that were preseason All-SEC selections, including JaMychal Green, Tony Mitchell and Trevor Releford.  During the program’s history, it has competed in 85 regular-season tournaments, posting a 127-73 record in those events.  It will be interesting to see if Grant keeps the same starting lineup, as a pair of freshmen started in the season opener.  In 71 career games on campus, he has had a freshman starter in 58 contests.

Bettors will likely back the Crimson Tide due to their 6-2 ATS mark on Thursdays, while the Terrapins are 3-7 ATS on a neutral court.

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