Maryland’s head coach Mark Turgeon seemed to shift his tactics a bit after his team lost at Michigan, 87-63, on January 19th. There were 70 possessions in that game. The Terrapins did not see 70 possessions for the next 12 games lasting through the rest of the regular season. Turgeon slowed the pace of the games down particularly on the road. This change in approach helped to create some great betting opportunities later in the season. Let’s look at Maryland's first-round game in the NCAA Tournament against UConn.
The Terrapins’ defensive prowess was underappreciated entering that game against the Huskies. While Maryland ranked just 95th in the nation in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency when playing at home at the time, they jumped to ninth-best in the nation in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency when playing on the road either on a neutral court or in true road games. But Turgeon was also seeing a decline in the offensive effectiveness of his team when playing on the road. At home, the Terrapins were 20th nationally in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency — but they fell to 96th in the nation in that metric on the road. They were scoring 62.1 PPG on the road on 42.1% shooting which was -6.7 PPG below their season average.
Maryland seemed to be clearly improving their play on defense as the season moved on. They had held their last five opponents to just 63.4 PPG on 39.5% shooting even after Michigan made 51.7% of their shots against them on a neutral court in the Quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. They ranked 14th best in the nation in their last ten games in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency overall which is an improvement over their 25th ranking in that metric for the season going into the NCAA Tournament. Playing away from home where their offense declines but their defense improves offered an intriguing Under opportunity.
But I do not handicap if I do not see complementary evidence from the other team involved in the game. In this instance, there was strong evidence from UConn that supported a play on the Under. The Huskies led the Big East by allowing only 64.6 PPG — and they held ten opponents to under 60 points. They have held their last five opponents to 39.9% shooting. And while they ranked 90th in the nation in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency when playing at home at the time, they improved to fifth-best in the nation in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency when playing on the road! And to put the icing on the cake, UConn was only making 40% of their shots on the road which resulted in 67.7 PPG which was -4.8 PPG below their season average.
The Maryland/UConn Under was our 25* CBB NCAA Tournament First Round Total of the Year — and we were rewarded with a winning ticket after the Terrapins held the Huskies to just 54 points in their 63-54 victory that fell comfortably below the total that closed in the high 120s.
This discovery about Maryland’s distinct play when playing away from College Park also played a significant role in the winning of our 25* CBB Big Ten Total of Year with the Under in the Terrapins’ 60-55 win at Northwestern on March 3rd. The Terrapins’ strong defensive play on the road also played a role in our backing them in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament against a Michigan State team that played significantly better at home at the Breslin Center than they did on the road. Finding the hidden value in Maryland’s home/road defensive splits made the winning difference on several occasions.
Best of luck for us — Frank.