Back Russell and the Terps at Home

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George Washington vs. Maryland Odds

George Washington takes the nine-mile ride out of Washington DC and over to College Park on Thursday night as the Colonials take on Maryland in the second game of the season for both teams.

Colonials held a St. Francis (PA) rise in the second half Tuesday night and almost gave the game away in the final minutes, holding on to a 79-76 home win. There are some expected growth pains for GW because they do not have a wealth of recurring production and are dependent on transfers.

Maryland had a comfortable home win against MAAC enemy Quinnipiac, 83-69, at home. The result was never in doubt for Terrapins, who, however, lost the last 10 minutes of the match once up 20 and failed to cover the spread as a big favorite.

George Washington was a little lucky to escape his fight against St. Francis (PA) with a victory as St. Francis shot just 11.1% from 3. The GW defense looked like its 2020-21 self in the second half of the match when St. Francis shook off some of the rust in the initial half of the game.

The Colonials were an undefeated disaster at the defensive end last season despite trying both man and zone concepts at different times during the season. GW ended the season as the worst defense in all of Atlantic-10.

They added two big transfers in Joe Bamisile (Virginia Tech) and Brendan Adams (UConn) to become more athletic and improve the defensive end, but they still struggled fiercely to get stops down the stretch Tuesday night and will face an extreme long and athletic group in Maryland Thursday night.

GW does not have a wealth of recurring production, with 41% of the minutes left from last season. A big homecoming is Ricky Lindo, a 6-foot-8 forward and double-twin machine. However, he will constantly relinquish several inches of height and reach on Thursday night against UMD’s improved central position, and it is very difficult to see how they keep up with Maryland’s offensive without playing at least a decent halfway defense.

Mark Turgeon’s crew is known for its inconsistency both in-game and game-to-game over recent seasons. Slow starts have become a common occurrence for the Terrapins in the past and continue to be a concern as they stand as big favorites against inferior teams. Maryland returns only 45.5% of its minutes per game. Bart Torvik, but Terps hit the transfer portal hard to rebuild the lost minutes from their list and fill some gaps.

Fatts Russell switched from Rhode Island and is one of the best backcourt defenders in the entire country. He is also a good facilitator despite his shooting gaps and the Terrapins have solved their big man crisis from last year with two players to fit the hole on the list.

Qudus Wahab switched from Georgetown and excelled in his first match after a fantastic freshman year with Hoyas. Freshman great Julian Reese spelled him out, and although Turgeon mentioned fitness issues, he is expected to play less than half of the game.

Maryland is projecting as one of the bigger teams in the country despite starting 5-foot-11 Russell on the backcourt because its wings also have excellent length. Eric Ayala is back as more of a two-guard as he seeks to find his shooting form from his underclass time. He’s going to be more off the ball and join Russell on the backcourt, while both Hakim Hart and and Donta Scott are back on the front line for the Turgeon’s team.

Terrapins had a downturn last year, but have a mix of both recurring production and transfer additives to fill their gaps. This makes them a potential surprise team in the second row of the Big Ten behind the big four in Illinois, Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan at the top of the conference.

The ball has at times been stuck on the halfway line for Maryland’s attacks in the past, and it has often been a critique of the Turgeon. But with the Russell running point, they should have no trouble creating shots or assists in this offensive this season.

George Washington vs. Maryland Betting Pick

I’m lower on George Washington than the market, and I probably will be until Jamion Christian shows he can train an effective defense with the current talent he has, or the Colonials start showing some consistency after last year’s debacle.

The parts look better for GW this year, especially on the wings, but they have very little experience playing together. The sum of these parts will take time to gel this season, if they ever gel at all.

The combination of Wahab and Reese will constantly throw energy and length on Lindo all night and neutralize one of GW’s best scoring opportunities. Russell will make this Terrapins offensive flow much better this season, as Maryland could easily have covered the spread against Quinnipiac if the Bobcats had not become red-hot from 3 late.

While it’s always dangerous to bet on Turgeon’s Terps as a huge favorite, I seek to fade GW early and often early in the season.

Pick: Maryland -19.5

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