NCAAB Illinois Vs. Maryland Odds, Picks, Predictions (12/2/22)

Conference play kicks off tonight for the Big Ten with a top-25 matchup as the Maryland Terps battle it out against Illinois. Maryland has been off to one of their best starts in recent time with Illinois setting up as a true measure of quality opponent should the Terps hot start be for real.

Illinois Vs. Maryland Odds

Oddsmakers believe in Maryland as they opened them up as a -2.5 favorite. Bettors on the other hand are indifferent to the oddsmakers, taking Illinois to as low as +1.5 in some shops. Maryland has benefited from an easy schedule, ranking 288th in AdjEM per Kenpom in strength of schedule.

As for the total, both offenses are expected to trade buckets in a back-and-forth track meet as oddsmakers set the total at 144.5. Bettors were quick to hit the over, shooting this up to as high as 146.5 in some shops. The number is worth monitoring as a late under may be in play should this climb up too high.

Illinois Vs. Maryland Prediction & Pick

The Pick: Illinois +2

While Maryland’s hot start has been impressive, I fear Illinois will be a wakeup call for the Terps as they are going against an elite defensive unit while their offensive production is due to positively regress towards the mean.

With their offense struggling, Illinois’s success has been on the backs of their ninth ranked AdjD rating. Even while shooting slightly below average for an elite unit, they have turned defense into offense for high quality looks in transition. 

Speaking of transition, Illinois will look to push the ball with their up-tempo offense. They rank top-15 in AdjT per Kenpom, trying to make Maryland uncomfortable and scrambling to defend efficiently. With Maryland playing uncomfortably above their pace of tempo, this could create quality looks for Illinois to pull ahead early.

They will have defensive advantages against Maryland’s high-powered offense, using their size to negate quality looks down low and force the Terps to beat them from deep. They have struggled from the perimeter so far this season, shooting 31.8% from deep.

(Tallysight pick tile here)

Illinois Vs. Maryland Key Matchups

Can Illinois find offensive life to complement their defense? How will Maryland continue to find offensive success against Illinois’ size advantage?

Illinois half-court offense vs Maryland defense

While Illinois can count on their elite defensive play to generate offense, it’s not a metric that can last the whole course of a game and at some point, they will need to find success in the halfcourt. 

Illinois gets opportunities for high scoring production, they have just yet to high at a consistent rate. It may be tough for Illinois to find consistency this time around as Maryland sneakily fields a good defense themselves. Maryland is top-20 in defensive field goal efficiency.

To combat this in the half court, Illinois will need to look down low for size to create opportunities at the rim. If their bigs can impose their wills, this will suck in Maryland’s defense to allow for higher quality looks from deep for Illinois.

Illinois size vs Maryland scoring

With Illinois having a size advantage down low, Maryland will be hard pressed to continue their two-point efficiency as a top-10 unit in two-point scoring production. With their perimeter offense being below average, Maryland will need to create space up top to attack the block.

They will need to attack the bigs to make them uncomfortable, potentially getting them in foul trouble to level the field. Their leading scorers average 85% or higher at the charity stripe, keeping them within a puncher’s chance of winning should they be unable to keep up their elite offensive production.

Verdict

With the Illinois defense being able to limit the high-powered Maryland offense and using that to create their own offense, I will back the Fighting Illini at +2 in what will be a premier Big Ten conference matchup.

Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

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