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Giving Away Money: ‘Bama is a good bet in Round Two...but those totals are iffy.

The Tide faces a very good, well-rounded team in Round Two

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-West Virginia vs Maryland Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Ordinarily, you’d like to see an Alabama game where the scoring is well into the 80s. Tomorrow, however, is probably going to be the outlier to that. You’d like to see ‘Bama in the upper 70s and then UMD in the lower- to mid-60s.

Here’s why:

Per DraftKings, the Alabama Crimson Tide is a -9 favorite at “home” over the battered Maryland Terps, with the totals are sitting at 144.0, as of this writing.

UMD’s coach, Kevin Willard, tried to kill the Tide with kindness:

The funny thing about this roster is, I think this is the most talented roster I’ve seen in college basketball since the ‘93/’94 Kentucky team. I think Coach Pitino’s ‘93 — with Antoine Walker, Walter McCarthy. This team reminds me of that team with the length, athleticism, how unselfish they play, very similar point guards.

I love the way Jahvon Quinerly is playing right now. I’m happy for him. I’ve known him since he was in ninth grade.

The issue with Brandon is he has such good range. So it’s not like you can just — and he’s so talented off the dribble. He uses his size. Everyone says he’s Paul George, and that’s a really good comparison because I think that’s who he reminds me of. You’re not going to sit there and say, okay, we’re going to pressure him and make him dribble. He can dribble. He makes plays, and he’s unselfish. We’re going to try to switch up some guys on him, maybe put some taller guys on him.

Again, you can’t focus on him. He didn’t score last night, and they scored 96 points. Like, I haven’t seen that, and that’s why, I think, this team reminds me of that ‘93/’94 team. They had guys that, if one guy didn’t play well, they had two All-Americans coming off the bench. So it’s a talented roster, and I think what I’m really impressed with them — I’ve watched their last four games now — is how unselfish they are.

They really pass the basketball. It’s not a complicated offense, but it’s a good offense because they’re unselfish.

But don’t listen to him praise the offense.

The Terps love to go on the offensive as well...and they have a lot of success doing so. Against the number, Maryland is 9-3 when they go over, and 10-2 vs. the spread. But as an underdog, the Terps haven’t been great: They’re 2-10 S/U as an underdog, and just 5-7 to even cover.

For the Tide, the mission is going to be to defensively frustrate UMD — try and keep the game well below Alabama’s aggregate of 153 points, with a 13.9-point MOV.

That should be attainable. The Terps are just 3-10 vs. Q1 teams and two of those came in the last 6 games, including a very soft Q1 win over then-30 Northwestern. But, to give you some sort of idea of how dangerous Maryland can be: they are the last team to manhandle the Penn State Nittany Lions, and they stood toe-to-toe with Huggy Bear pressketball.

The advanced stats bear that out too. UMD is just a solid all-around team: 37th in offensive efficiency, 40th in defensive efficiency, 42nd in tempo, 38th in rebound efficiency, 60th in forcing turnovers, 56th in committing them. You’d be hard-pressed to find a resume that looks more like a mid-seed at-large than what UMD brings to the table. I hate to use the word “solid” again, but that’s the best adjective I have. They don’t do anything poorly, even if they’re not elite in any one facet.

For all that, Alabama still has been damn-near free money in these single-point spread contests.

They’re 13-5 ATS in such games overall, and 10-3 ATS in them since 2023 started. The Tide puts away games that are supposed to be close. The only games where the Tide underperformed were two true roadies and then at home vs. archnemesis Arkansas. Tourney teams overall are having good fortunes at this sweet spot too, winning 87% of them in 2022-2023, and covering 58% of the time. Given the Tide’s outstanding 70% cover rate in single-digit games, and the above-average cover rate for the Field of 68 as a whole, this seems a decent spot to take the Tide.

Stats-wise, the team that Maryland most resembles is another neutral-court opponent from ‘Bama’s early season schedule, the Michigan State Spartans. The Tide put that one away 81-70.

And you know, that sounds like a good call here, but with a much more spirited defensive effort by all parties. ‘Bama by 11.

Alabama 77, Maryland 66
Tide and just under 144.0

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