Free College Basketball Picks and Spreads: Duke @ Maryland 2012 NCAA Basketball Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN 1/25/12: It wasn’t all that long ago that a meeting between Duke and Maryland was one of the biggest rivalries in college basketball. The two teams repeatedly battled it out for the ACC title and each claimed a national title. A few down years for the Terrapins have lessened the significance, but the two programs still don’t like each other and the intensity always pick up when the two teams get together. The latest meeting will take place Wednesday night in College Park as part of ESPN’s national telecast, when the sixth-ranked Blue Devils (16-3) visit the unranked Terrapins (12-6). Not surprisingly, Duke is a 10 ½-point favorite.

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Neither side brings a lot of momentum into the matchup. Maryland has dropped back-to-back road games to Temple and Florida State, following a stretch when the Terrapins won nine out of 10 games. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils have lost twice in their last six games. Ironically, Duke’s two losses came to Temple and FSU as well.

Another factor to consider is Duke’s road record. Two of the Blue Devils’ three losses have come away from Cameron Indoor Stadium, and their two road wins have been by only seven points each. On the other hand, Duke has already defeated ranked opponents Michigan, Michigan State, Kansas and Virginia, while Maryland doesn’t have a signature win on its resume. The Terrapins have a chance to change that Wednesday, but they have been blown out by a majority of their toughest opponents this season.

Finding multiple weapons on offense has been the biggest issue for Maryland this year. Guard Terrell Stoglin has been a standout performer, averaging more than 21 points a game. He has been equally adept at scoring from the perimeter as well as penetrating the lane and getting to the foul line. However, guard Sean Mosley is the only other player averaging double digits, and he is barely scoring more than 10 points a game. Defenses have been able to focus on Stoglin, and even though he is putting up points, he is shooting less than 43 percent.

Duke is at the opposite end of the spectrum. No player is even averaging 15 points per game, but five players are averaging double figures. The Blue Devils have one of the best backcourts in the country, with Seth Curry, Austin Rivers and Andre Dawkins combining for almost 38 points per game. All three players can score from the perimeter, and Rivers has the added ability to penetrate and score as well. Duke also has an interesting mix of big men, with Ryan Kelly having range all the way out to the 3-point line and Mason Plumlee being more of a typical post scorer.

Mason Plumlee and his brother Miles could end up being the X-factors in the game. While Duke’s guards are excellent, the brothers do a lot of the dirty work. Mason and Miles combine to average more than 15 rebound and three blocks per game. Maryland struggles on the glass as a whole, and Stoglin needs to be able to get to the rim to avoid becoming solely a jump shooter. Mason and Miles will make life tough for Stoglin, and they should also control the boards on both ends of the court. By eliminating second-chance opportunities for the Terrapins, Maryland’s already mediocre offense could struggle even more.

While Duke hasn’t been perfect this year, there is a huge talent gap between the Blue Devils and the Terrapins in this matchup. Duke has the edge in size, depth and perimeter scoring. Maryland will certainly be geared up to upset its rival in front of its home fans, but energy and desire can only compensate so much. The Terrapins have been hammered by top competition all season, and the Blue Devils are going to be their toughest test to date. It could get ugly for Maryland.

Prediction: Duke Blue Devils (-10 ½) Covers the Spread

College Basketball: Duke @ Maryland
Date: 1/25/12
Time: 9 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds - Favorite: Duke -10.5 Total: Over/Under 148.5

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