Big 10 Basketball Update: The Road to Madness in March
March Madness is upon us.
The Terps were 9th in the Big 10 after taking a 66-61 loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions over the weekend. That said, somehow they managed not to slip through the bubble and managed a No. 8 seed in the tournament.
Next up. No. 9 (seed) Michigan State on Thursday, March 11th. Remember, you can follow the March Madness bracket with betting odds at SBR.
The last time the Terps faced the Spartans was on February 28th and they walked away with a massive, 73-55 home victory. But can they repeat on a neutral floor?
I think the Maryland Terps will get the win but they probably won’t smash Sparty by nearly 20 points again.
If we look at the numbers provided by the Basketball Power Index (BPI), the Terps are rated 12.5, meaning they should beat an average team by that number on a neutral floor. The Spartans are rated 11.1, so in a perfect world, according to the predictive algorithms and rankings, Maryland should beat Michigan State by a point and a half in the Big 10 tourney. That said, I think the terps will probably push closer to double-digits.
Matchup Stats Overview
The Terps average 67.7 points per game on offense, and defensively allow 65. On the flip side, the Spartans allow more than they score, letting 70.7 points plop through the net while scoring 60.5 themselves. A lot of this has to do with Maryland’s effective field goal percentage. The Terps stat is 52.8% compared to MSU’s 48.0%. The other reason is Maryland tends to foul a lot less, 14.8 personal fouls per game against Michigan State’s 19.7.
Where Sparty plays better is off the glass. They average four to five rebounds per game more than the Terps and are significantly better at crashing the offensive glass for second attempts.
Michigan State is always a physical team, so it would be silly to underestimate them.
The odds for Maryland to win the Big 10 tournament are long, at +5000 and surprisingly enough, the Spartans have shorter odds at +3500 and are getting some ‘longshot love’ from pundits.
Even though Maryland is ranked No. 41, and is expected to get a bid to the Big Dance, probably around a No. 9 seed. They’ll still need to play well in the Big 10 tourney to assure this. If they are one of the first out, they could end up on the bubble. Michigan State is ranked No. 51 and they are already predicted by many to be one of the first to be ousted from The Tournament. Even so, the Big 10 schedule has been insane. So, regardless, both MSU and Maryland are almost ensured a berth into the big tournament. I mean, Ohio State lost three straight at the end of the regular season and are still looking at a No. 2 entrance …
… and I understand why. The Michigan Wolverines, the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Illinois Illini, the Ohio State, Buckeyes, the Purdue Boilermakers, the Wisconsin Badgers, are all tough teams that can beat some of the best from any other conference on any given day.
March Madness Bid Projections
We are likely to see Gonzaga, Michigan, Baylor, and Illinois all go No. 1, that is unless Iowa wins the Big 10 Tournament, which they very well could. Last week they smoked the Wolverines and in my humble opinion, they should be the favorites to win the Big 10 tournament, not Michigan.
The latest No. 2 projections are Ohio State, Iowa, Alabama, and Houston. At No. 3 we could see West Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, and Florida State. Then, at No. 4 we could see Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Virginia.
Back to Maryland: If the Terps play decently in this tournament, I do think they’ll get a No. 9 seed. If they play quite well and push into the quarter-finals they could get an 8-seed, maybe even a 7-seed. I have a sneaking feeling that the Spartans are going to be one of the last four in, even if they lose right off the bat to the Terps. Their strong finish in beating the Wolverines should be enough to get them in even as one of the first out of the Big 10 tourney.