The ACC/Big Ten Challenge continues Wednesday night with some great matchups, one of which is Notre Dame traveling to College Park to take on a Maryland team that is currently rolling at 8-0 and steadily moving up the rankings.
After dismantling Marquette over the weekend, the Terrapins have another opportunity against a Power 6 school with tournament aspirations in the Irish. Maryland is currently ranked No. 3 in the AP Poll and No. 8 in the Kenpom rankings, while Notre Dame is currently unranked in the AP and No. 50 in Kenpom.
The Terps are led by senior point guard Anthony Cowan at 17.1 points, 4.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game, and sophomore forward Jalen Smith, who averages 13.4 points and nine rebounds per game. Mark Turgeon’s group also boasts one of the best one-on-one defenders in the nation in junior Darryl Morsell, who was responsible for holding Marquette superstar Markus Howard to just six points on Sunday.
The Irish are once again led by big man John Mooney, who is currently averaging a double-double at 14.3 points and 13 rebounds per game. Senior guard Temple Gibbs has seemingly regained his shooting form from two seasons ago and is knocking down 39 percent of his jumpers, while sophomores Dane Goodwin and Prentiss Hubb are both averaging double-digit points as well.
Maryland is a 9.5-point favorite playing at home, with the over/under set at 144.
Can The Irish Get A Hard-Fought Win?
Notre Dame’s biggest asset coming into this game is the fact that it does not turn the ball over. At 13.1 percent, the Irish are currently third in the nation in turnover percentage. Their biggest issue is once again their inability to consistently knock down jump shots, as displayed by their .316 three-point percentage. This is also concerning because 42.4 percent of the Irish’s overall field-goal attempts come from behind the arc.
Slow And Steady Wins The Race?
Traditionally, Maryland has been very deliberate on offense under Turgeon. This season, however, the Terrapins are 54th in tempo, which is a steep deviation from the norm, as they have not been inside the top 60 since 2013-14 when they ranked 57th. Every other season has been 199th or slower. It could be a factor of their schedule, but recent wins against Marquette, Harvard and Temple represent a nice ramp-up in competition. Maybe Turgeon is changing his ways?
Prediction and Pick
The 9.5-point line, even at home, feels a little bit big considering the competition, and the fact that the Terrapins are just 3-2 ATS at home so far, and none of the teams they faced were of the level of Notre Dame.
On the other hand, the Irish’s only game away from home so far this season has been at North Carolina to open the season. Since then, every Notre Dame game has been played in the friendly confines of Purcell Pavillion. Even with home-court advantage and the 341st-ranked schedule, the Irish are just 3-4 ATS on the season.
Given Notre Dame’s inability to shoot, and Morsell’s defensive ability on Gibbs, Maryland should cover this spread. On the total, these two teams have combined to go under on nine of 15 games this season, and Notre Dame is the best defensive team that the Terrapins have faced all season. Take the under.