We offer our best bets and analysis for that game plus some other more obscure matchups on the hoops card as the calendar inches closer to March.
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No. 18 Iowa vs. No. 15 Maryland
The Hawkeyes have won five straight games after a 68-62 win over Wisconsin Monday. Iowa and Maryland enter with identical 6-3 conference. The Hawkeyes have not won the Big 10 in 40 years. Iowa steamrolled Maryland 67-49 back on Jan. 10 and are trying to complete the season sweep in this series.
Iowa big man Luka Garza matched his career-high with 18 rebounds against Wisconsin. Maryland’s Jalen Smith is the reigning Big 10 Player of the Week after averaging 27 points and 11 boards in two victories for the Terps, including a 77-76 comeback at Indiana Sunday where the Terps erased a six-point deficit in the final 1:25 of the game.
Garza and the Hawkeyes should have a definitive advantage on the inside in this matchup as Iowa is a top-50 rebounding team this season. The Terps are 3-0 ATS in their last three home games and have won 19 of their last 21 inside XFINITY Center. However, the Hawkeyes are hot and should control the paint in this Big 10 slugfest. Take the points.
PICK: Iowa +5.5
Minnesota vs. No. 19 Illinois
The Illini have won six straight as they are in the hunt for their first Big 10 title since 2005. Illinois is fresh off a thrilling 64-62 road win over Michigan pushing their conference record to 7-2 on the season. The Illini are 12-1 at home this season. Minnesota has dropped three straight after a 70-52 home loss to Michigan State on Sunday.
Ayo Dosunmu has been the catalyst for the Illini offense scoring a career-high 27 points including the game-winning bucket with 0.5 seconds remaining in the win over Michigan. Dosunmu is averaging 19.2 points over his last five games. I like Dosunmu and the Illinois bigs to control the tempo.
PICK: Illinois -5.5
South Alabama vs. Georgia State
Georgia State is gearing up for another run at the NCAA Tournament after making the field in each of its last two seasons as champions of the Sun Belt Conference. The Panthers are 13-5-1 ATS this season and host a South Alabama squad that is just 7-11-1. Georgia State is 8-0 at home this season and has won four straight matchups over the Jaguars.
PICK: Georgia State -5.5
Tennessee Martin vs. Eastern Kentucky
This is a matchup between two of the worst defenses in the country. Tennessee Martin ranks 352nd out of 353 teams in defensive efficiency while Eastern Kentucky ranks 294th, according to KenPom. Tennessee Martin has allowed at least 80 points 14 times this season and is just 1-13 in those matchups. Expect a ton of points in this one.
PICK: Over 163.5
New Mexico State vs. Cal State Bakersfield
The Aggies have won nine in a row as they are in the hunt for a fourth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. This year’s squad is rife is deep and experience with three seniors and a junior in the rotation. The Aggies are balanced and rank inside the top 110 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Meanwhile, the Roadrunners are one of the worst teams in the country at defending the 3-point line and rank 250th in defensive efficiency. New Mexico State gets it done at home.
PICK: New Mexico State -11.5
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith