Maryland opens the tournament Thursday against West Virginia, and Howard University meets the Kansas Jayhawks in important South and West Region matchups.
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West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Maryland Terrapins 12:15 pm
The 2023 NCAA Tournament begins with the West Virginia Mountaineers taking on the Maryland Terrapins in the 1st round of the South Regional at Legacy Arena at BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama.
West Virginia is a -2.5 point favorite with a 137.5 point total when they meet Maryland.
Current form of West Virginia Mountaineers
The West Virginia Mountaineers finished 8th in the Big 12 Conference college basketball standings and have won three of its last five games. The Mountaineers went 3-8 SU as the away team but 5-6 ATS and 2-2 on a neutral court.
Head Coach Bob Huggins’ team is 70th in scoring nationally and topped the Big 12 in offensive rebound percentage and free-throw rate. The Mountaineers struggle with defending inside or outside the arc but allow the 209th points per game in the country.
— WVU Men's Basketball (@WVUhoops) March 9, 2023
Current form of Maryland Terrapins
The Maryland Terrapins finished 6th on the Big Ten Conference basketball table but have dropped three of its last five tilts. Maryland went 2-9 with a 4-7 ATS record and was 3-2 on neutral courts.
Maryland is a defense-first team allowing the nation’s 26th fewest points and was second in their conference in free-throw shooting percentage. The Terrapins are one of the slowest teams in the postseason, and its greatest flaw is that Maryland doesn’t score the ball well from inside or outside the three-point circle.
"These kids bought into our culture"
Coach Willard is the first head coach in program history to reach the NCAA Tournament in his first season
The buy in is real pic.twitter.com/UZwRm1U0Fl
— Maryland Men’s Basketball (@TerrapinHoops) March 13, 2023
Phil’s Best Bet
Maryland shouldn’t be this large an underdog, and my best bet for Thursday is Maryalnd +2.5 -110 at Caesars.
This should be a closely contested contest that favors the defensive first Terrapins. Maryland does a solid job contesting shots, and its slower style of play will wreak havoc on the faster-playing Mountaineers.
Maryland does two things that win college basketball games in March–they contest shots and make their free throws, and Maryland is just better at those two things than West Virginia is.
Maryland also has the better assist-to-turnover ratio, and in a game that could be decided by three points or less, we will take the better defensive team with the least turnovers, and that is Maryland.
Phil’s Best Bet: Maryland +2.5 -110 Caesars
Howard Bison vs. Kansas 2:00 pm
Howard is a +21.5 point underdog with a 145.5 point total when they meet the No.1 seed Kansas Jayhawks Thursday afternoon in the 1st round of the West Region at Wells Fargo Arena.
Current form of Howard Bison
The Howard Bison are the 2023 MEAC Basketball Champions, winning the regular season and MEAC Tournament title. The Bison have won five straight and have an away record of 6-8 and 5-9 ATS, and 4-2 this season on neutral courts.
Howard is 89th in points scored per contest, and their strengths would be their top-31 offensive rebounding rate and three-point shooting percentage. The Bison has one of the worst turnover and steal percentages in the college game.
— Alison Williams (@AlisonW39) March 12, 2023
Current form of Kansas Jayhawks
The Kansas Jayhawks are the No. 4 ranked college basketball team in the country and were the Big-12 regular season champions but fell in the Big-12 tournament final to Texas.
The Jayhawks have won three of its last five, are 7-2 this season as the away team, and 5-2 on a neutral court. Kansas is also ranked 85th in points scored per contest and 15th in assists-field goals made. The Jayhawks aren’t very good at offensive rebounding or non-steals-related turnovers.
“it’s a new season, a new time. we know we’ve got to be focused.” -Coach Norm Roberts 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/S5IeIJkyjM
— Kansas Men’s Basketball (@KUHoops) March 12, 2023
Phil’s Best Bet
Kansas is the much better team and should cover the -22 -110 at Caesars.
It’s a pity for Howard to draw Kansas, but it is what it is, and the Jayhawks will probably beat the Bison by 30 on Thursday afternoon.
The Bison have a big offense with nothing to lose, but the MEAC champs face an uphill battle against a Jayhawks side that is better than Howard in nearly every statistical category. Kansas has better shooters and the nation’s 39th best assist to turnover ratio. This contest might be close for a while, but the deeper and more talented Jayhawks should easily cover the spread Thursday.
Kansas -22 -110 Caesars