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Notre Dame visits slumping Maryland on Wednesday
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 1/15/2014  at  6:05:00 AM
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Comcast Center - College Park, MD
Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Maryland -4, Total: 148.5

In Notre Dameís first year in the ACC and Marylandís last year in the ACC, the two schools will square off only once, tipping off Wednesday night at the Comcast Center in College Park.

The Fighting Irish have had a strange start to conference play. First they upset then-No. 7 Duke, but have since lost to weak teams in Georgia Tech and North Carolina State, giving both schools their only ACC victories. Notre Dame is 5-8-1 ATS overall this season, but 3-1 ATS in non-home games. The Irish are also 4-0 ATS this season as underdogs, and Mike Brey is 52-34 ATS (61%) as a road underdog since taking over as Notre Dame's head coach. Maryland (7-6 ATS overall, 2-2 ATS at home) has beaten Boston College and Georgia Tech in ACC play, but is coming off back-to-back blowout losses to Pittsburgh (by 20 points) and Florida State (by 24 points). However, Mark Turgeon is 21-8 ATS (72%) after an SU loss as head coach of Maryland. Each of the four meetings between these two programs in the last 15 years came at a neutral location. The teams have split those meetings SU, while Notre Dame has covered in three of the four. The one exception was the Terrapins 78-71 win-and-cover in the most recent meeting on Dec. 4, 2011.

Which team will pick up a key ACC win on Wednesday night? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 61% ATS (152-99-5) mark, including a stellar 65% ATS (120-65) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is leading the way at 64% ATS (32-18-1) for the season and 69% ATS (25-11) since Nov. 26. StatFox Zach is 62% ATS (31-19-1) on Best Bets this season, including 68% ATS (25-12) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Scott is 62% ATS (32-20) for the season and 67% ATS (22-11) since Dec. 2, while StatFox Gary is 59% ATS (29-20-2) for the season and 68% ATS (21-10) since Dec. 3. StatFox Dave is 56% ATS (28-22-1) for the season and 61% ATS (11-7) since Dec. 18.

Notre Dameís strong offense averages 78.7 PPG on 46.8% FG, led by a strong crew of passers that puts up 17.6 APG (6th in Div. I). They also take extremely good care of the ball, turning it over only 10.2 times per game (23rd in nation). But the defense hasn't been great, allowing 71.2 PPG on 43.3% FG and a robust 37.5% threes. Although Notre Dame's leading scorer and passer from the start of the season, PG Jerian Grant (19.0 PPG, 6.2 APG) is gone for academic violations, the team is averaging 76.3 PPG since he left. His departure places more pressure on SG Eric Atkins (14.0 PPG, 4.9 APG), who has thrived in his expanded role, averaging 20.8 PPG and 6.8 APG over the teamís past four contests. In the loss to Maryland two years ago, Atkins played all 40 minutes, but made just 5-of-16 shots with two assists. The other two leading scorers for Notre Dame this season are post players. C Garrick Sherman (14.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG) leads the team in rebounding and is coming off back-to-back double doubles (17.0 PPG, 15.0 RPG). SF Pat Connaughton (13.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG) is more of a stretch-four, knocking down 2.5 threes per game on a 42.1% clip. Connaughton had nine points and six boards in 25 minutes against the Terps two years ago.

Marylandís offense isnít quite as explosive as Notre Dameís, averaging only 72.8 PPG (164th in Div. I) on a 43.9% FG clip (209th in Div. I) with 12.1 APG (256th in Div. I). The defense is also lackluster, allowing 68.7 PPG on 41.6% FG and a whopping 38.1% threes. In four ACC games, it has surrendered 76.2 PPG on 47.3% FG and a ridiculous 46.7% threes (35-of-75). Florida State drained 16-of-24 threes in Maryland's loss on Sunday. The Terrapins got a boost though when PG Seth Allen (10.0 PPG, 2.8 APG) returned to the lineup after a preseason injury, playing in the last five games. Although he was horrible in Sunday's loss to the Seminoles (0-for-8 FG, 0-for-6 threes), Allen's return only helps SG Dez Wells (14.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG), who can now return to his more natural scoring role and spend less time handling the ball where he has 45 turnovers and just 33 assists this season. Wells is the leading scorer with 10+ points in 12 of his past 13 games, while 6-foot-8 swingman Jake Layman (12.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.1 BPG) can stretch defenses, knocking down 2.2 threes per game on a 40% clip. Six-foot-9 PF Evan Smotrycz (12.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG) is cut from a similar cloth, hitting 1.9 threes per game on a 37% success rate. SG Nick Faust (10.4 PPG, 1.3 SPG) isnít afraid to shoot either, but has made just 39% FG and 31% threes this season. Faust has at least 13 points in four of his past five games (13.8 PPG), but he had a horrible performance against the Irish two seasons ago, tallying just three points (1-of-5 FG, 0-for-4 FT) with one rebound, zero assists, three turnovers and four fouls in 29 minutes. The team averages 19.1 three-point attempts per game, though their 36.0% clip from beyond the arc is middle of the road, leading them to be vulnerable to hot and cold streaks.

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