NCAA Betting Preview: (4) Maryland Terrapins v. (13) Valparaiso Crusaders

Valpo is 4.5 point dogs to last year's tourney snub Maryland.
Valpo is 4.5 point dogs to last year’s tourney snub Maryland.

(4) Maryland vs. (13) Valpo
Time: 4:40 PM ET, TV: TNT
Spread: MAR -4.5
M/L: MAR -200; VAL +170
Total: 124

Betting odds c/o Bovada

Maryland is going to avoid becoming the third No. 4 seed to fall in this tournament, and doing so won’t be easy. NCAA basketball oddsmakers at Bovada are favoring the Terrapins by just 4.5 points in second round action against Valparaiso Friday afternoon on TNT. The over/under is set at 124 for the contest.

Maryland boasted a 27-6 regular season record with a 14-4 mark in the Big Ten. It lost to Michigan State 62-58 on Mar 14 to close its season, and it came despite getting a big game from forward Melo Trimble, who shot 7 of 16 while hitting four threes en route to 22 points. Removing his four threes, the rest of the team shot 4 of 11 from behind the arc—subpar. Valpo will do its best to keep the ball out of Trimble’s hands, but that is no easy task for a Maryland team that does its best to make sure he gets his shot attempts up. The 6’2” freshman guard may lack experience, but he makes up for it in poise. This season he averaged 16.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He’s also notched 21, 17 and 22 point in his past three contests while connecting on at least two threes in each of those games. He averages just 11.5 shot attempts on the season, but with the postseason here that number is due to increase.

Beyond Trimble’s play in the backcourt, the Terrapins also get big production from 6’5” senior swingman Dez Wells who posted 15.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in his senior season this year. Wells has been a productive player all three of his seasons at Maryland after transferring from Xavier following the 2011-12 season. His workload has increased, but only with a slight down tick in efficiency from the field. And that’s been more than compensated by his three-point marksman ship, as he knocks down 50 percent from behind the arc. His 80 percent free throw shooting will come in hand in late game situations. The problem for Wells is turnovers. He commits 3.1 per game and has averaged 2.5 or more the past three years, none of which have featured him averaging more than three dimes per.

Alpo posted an outstanding 28-5 mark this season while knocking out 13 of 16 Horizon league opponents and claiming the conference title over a weak Green Bay Phoenix team. The Crusaders are a strong team on the interior, ranking 33rd in the nation in rebounding per game. But the team has had some struggles scoring the basketball, averaging under 70 points per game this season and ranking 104th in the NCAA. What’s more is that Valpo really didn’t face a quality big name program the entire season. It’s easy to reel off three major win streaks when the toughest opponent of the season is a mid-major program like Murray or even Eastern Kentucky.

6’9” sophomore forward Alec Peters is the star of this Valparaiso team. After a strong freshman campaign which saw the Washington native average 12.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, he’s increased his efficiency in all categories while setting career highs in most categories as well. His three-point shot has become flat out deadly, attempting 5.2 looks per game and knocking down 46 percent of them. Peters is a very good free throw shooter, but could stand to get to the line more than 3.4 times per game given his 84.1 percent mark from the stripe. Peters averages 16.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game his season and should see his shot attempts rise from about 12 to 15 if the Crusaders are to advance in this tournament. Real players do real things.

Note: Valpo has three guys listed as probable for the game in Tevonn Walker, Keith Carter and Darien Walker. As is the case with all guys able to strap it up in this tournament, they likely will. There’s no reason to bet against the Crusaders on the notion that the team can’t cover the spread given that the trio is going to suit up for the biggest game of their basketball careers.

• Under is 13-3 in VALP last 16 Fri. games.
• VALP are 21-8-1 ATS in their last 30 Fri. games.
• Under is 37-16-1 in VALP last 54 overall.

• Over is 7-1 in MD last 8 Fri. games.

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