Thursday college basketball betting previews: Wisconsin-Maryland and W. Ky-Middle Tenn.

By Greg Peterson  ( 

February 28, 2018 11:31 PM

Wisconsin vs Maryland (Noon ET on Big Ten Network)

Opening Line: Maryland -2

Offensive Efficiency: Wisconsin #138, Maryland #71

Defensive Efficiency: Wisconsin #183, Maryland #79

Rebound Rate: Wisconsin #178, Maryland #32

Percent of Shots are 3s: Wisconsin #186, Maryland #198

Free-Throw Shooting Percentage: Wisconsin #243, Maryland #43

Pace: Wisconsin #350, Maryland #302

Wisconsin and Maryland have had disappointing seasons and seek redemption in New York. Maryland has a record of 18-2 in non-quadrant one games and 0-10 in Q1 games. Due to a tougher schedule in the back half of the season, the Terps enter with a 5-8 record in its past 13 games. Wisconsin has won four of its last five, including a huge win over Purdue.

Wisconsin relies so much on one player, forward Ethan Happ. He leads the team in points, rebounds, blocks, steals and assists. Wisconsin lost two of its most important guards during the season, so the Badgers lean on Happ to help run the offense.

Both squads play at paces significantly slower than the national average. Maryland has the better numbers on paper, but have went through some struggles since the loss of Justin Jackson. The team got off to an 8-3 start with him and he was the team's leader in rebounding when he was lost for the season.

Maryland has still been a solid team at rebounding by committee in Big Ten play, but might have some issues containing Happ from getting a bunch of boards. The good news for the Terps is that Wisconsin does not have much of anything else down low and spotty guard play at best.

The first time these two hooked up, Maryland got a 68-63 win at home thanks to going 18-of-19 at the free-throw line, which is a place Wisconsin has struggled this season. That along with whichever team can shoot better from 3-point range will likely decide which team is able to win and cover.

Western Kentucky at Middle Tennessee (8 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network)

Opening Line: Middle Tennessee -4

Offensive Efficiency: Western Kentucky #34, Middle Tennessee #80

Defensive Efficiency: Western Kentucky #56, Middle Tennessee #28

Rebound Rate: Western Kentucky #116, Middle Tennessee #22

Percent of Shots are 3s: Western Kentucky #342, Middle Tennessee #271

Free-Throw Shooting Percentage: Western Kentucky #227, Middle Tennessee #44

Pace: Western Kentucky #151, Middle Tennessee #274

As insane as it sounds, there is a bubble game in Conference USA. Western Kentucky can get on the bubble with a win over Middle Tennessee while the Blue Raiders will put themselves close to locking in a bid if they pull this one out.

Middle Tennessee has built its success by outrebounding its opponents by a wide margin, thanks to guards that are not afraid to go in the paint and a rotation of four big men.

Despite having a bunch of forwards on the roster, Middle Tennessee is a good free-throw shooting team, though the team does not go to the line a ton. With Western Kentucky being a team that does not send teams to the line often, it makes attacking the paint all the more important.

Neither of these squads looks to take a lot of 3-pointers, but both have an above average efficiency on the ones they take. Western Kentucky also have versatile forwards who have huge offensive roles.

Western Kentucky's Justin Jackson and Nick King of Middle Tennessee lead their teams in scoring, rebounding and 3-point percentage. Nick King is the better scorer and Justin Jackson is the more dominant rebounder, which should lead to an interesting battle between arguably the two best players in the conference.

While the battle of the two stars will be huge in deciding this contest, the battle of offense and rebounding will be paramount as well. Middle Tennessee is one of the more efficient defenses in the country, but is one of the worst teams in the nation in blocking shots. If Middle Tennessee can play snug defense in the post and prevent Western Kentucky from driving in the paint and getting to the line, the Blue Raiders will be in good shape to get the win and cover.

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