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Two teams that are mired in the lower half of the Big Ten standings look to make a move toward a higher tier when Maryland travels to Penn State for a Friday night game. The Terrapins are coming off an upset of No. 24 Purdue, winning 61-60 in College Park on Tuesday. The win ended a string of two losses in three games and improved Maryland to 10-8, 4-7 in the Big Ten, good for a tie for ninth in basketball’s toughest conference. Let’s see their NCAAB odds.

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Maryland Terrapins vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Thursday, February 5, 2021 – 7:00 PM ET at the Bryce Jordan Center

Penn State lost by 16 at Wisconsin on Tuesday, the second loss in three outings for the Nittany Lions. Penn State also had a five-game losing streak earlier in the year with a two and a half week COVID shutdown sandwiched in the middle. The Nittany Lions sit at 6-8 on the year, 3-7 in the Big Ten, a half game behind Maryland in 11th place.

The game starts a string of three straight winnable outings for the Nits. Following Maryland, they play Michigan State and Nebraska. So a chance to get back to .500 by Valentine’s Day is on the table.

Building on Big Game Momentum

Maryland’s win over Purdue was its fourth over a ranked team this season.

“I think guys are gaining confidence because of it,” coach Mark Turgeon said of the upsets, “and I think they’re enjoying it a little bit more because they’re having fun playing.”

Like Penn State’s, the Maryland schedule is making a turn toward the favorable with this game. Maryland has played eight ranked teams in its last 10 games, but No. 7 Ohio State is the only ranked foe remaining on the regular season schedule.

The Big Ten is a big man league this year, as just about every team Maryland plays has had a significant size advantage. The Terps don’t have anyone over 6-foot-9 who plays significant minutes in the rotation and frequently goes with five perimeter players to try to move the game outside, away from their disadvantage in the post.

This game will give the Terps the rare chance to go toe-to-toe with a conference opponent. Penn State also doesn’t have a regular taller than 6-foot-9 on the roster.

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The Terps are led by 6-foot-6 wing Aaron Wiggins and 6-foot-7 Donta Scott. Wiggins is scoring 12.8 ppg with 5.4 rebounds, while Scott is at 12.7 ppg and 6.6 rebounds. Scott is also lighting it out from outside, hitting on 45.7 percent of threes to lead Maryland. Jairus Hamilton is also hitting over 40 percent on threes.

Size Advantage for Penn State

Instead of trying to figure out how to compensate for a size disadvantage, the Nittany Lions are in the unusual position of trying to take advantage of it. At 6-foot-9, 240 pounds, John Harrar will look to establish himself in the post, while also trying to guard Maryland’s wing forwards.

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Harrar has flirted with double-doubles all season, averaging 8.6 ppg and 8.1 rebounds. He’s scored in double figures in his last three games, averaging 14.0 ppg, and he has three double-digit rebounding outings in his last five.

Penn State’s guards will keep Maryland from collapsing on Harrar. Myreon Jones and Izaiah Brockington, both juniors, are each in the top 12 in the Big Ten in scoring. Jones is at 15.6 ppg and has scored in double figures in all but one game. Brockington is at 14.7 ppg.

The Pick

The game could be decided at the three-point arc. With Penn State having at least some type of inside threat in Harrar, it will help keep Maryland honest on defense. In other Big Ten games, the Terps have struggled at defending the three. Maryland ranks No. 251 in the nation in opponent’s three-point percentage, at 35.5. That plays right into the hands of Penn State, who hits 35.8 percent.

The Nittany Lions have struggled to defend the two, but, without a Luka Garza or Kofi Cockburn to defend inside, Penn State should find that task significantly easier on Friday night. For your best bets, look for the Nits to pull away at home.

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NCAAB Pick: Penn State -3.5 (-110) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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