Tiny Nick’s Playing Picks: 2/5

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Locks

NCAA Basketball – Akron @ Kent State -2 (-110): 6 PM CST on ESPNU

I really like this revenge spot for Kent State here. The Golden Flashes are quietly a serious MAC contender with only three conference losses by a combined eight points – two of them to conference leader Toledo and a 4-point loss at Akron to start conference play.

Kent State is an offensive machine, especially at home where their last three wins have seen them record 1.125 points per possession. They’ll be able to produce against Akron’s 136th ranked defense in efficiency. That’s a key stat here, as it’s far too low for a team who has enjoyed a weak schedule against MAC bottom feeders in seven of their last nine games, and then were exposed at Toledo in another revenge spot on Tuesday.

Lay the short number here with Kent State, and when star forward Danny Pippen leads them to a win remember he’s not related to Scottie.

NCAA Basketball – UTEP @ UAB -7.5 (-110): 6:30 PM CST on ESPN+

As is the case with most UAB games, defense is going to reign in this one. However, we have a pretty serious mismatch for this game as the Blazers are best in the country allowing only 0.82 points per possession, and they should be able to fully control this game against a Miners offense that’s 176th in efficiency.

UTEP is just 1-4 ATS in conference road games, while UAB is undefeated in conference home games with all but one of those wins by double-digits. UTEP was beaten handily by the only other C-USA contender they’ve faced on the road, North Texas, and I expect another comfortable win for UAB here.

This line should be double digits so lay the points with the Blazers.

Degenerates

NCAA Basketball – Boise State/Nevada Under 144.5 (-110): 8 PM CST on FS1

The zig-zag trends impacting the totals in Mountain West games are becoming very reliable, especially with these two teams. Until they had an 89-point outburst against an awful UNLV defense, every one of Nevada’s first leg conference games had been lower-scoring (by a whopping average of 22.8 points) and had come in under this total, plus the Wolfpack are 12-6 under this total on the season.

Boise State’s record is eerily similar, with their first-leg games being 16.2 points lower scoring, are 4-1 under this total, and the Broncos are 10-5 under this number on the season. These stats aren’t all that surprising given Boise is 21st in defensive efficiency, Nevada is 34th in field goal percentage defense, and combined these teams have only allowed 75 points four times in Mountain West play. Given the trends and under-the-radar defenses, I just don’t see how we get to this many points in the opener of this doubleheader.

NCAA Basketball – Cleveland St. +2 @ Oakland (-110): 6 PM CST on ESPN3

I’ve been a fan of this Cleveland State team throughout Horizon league play, and I think this line is just plain wrong for several reasons. Chief among those is the statistical profile of this Oakland team who is 186th in offensive efficiency, and at 1.103 points allowed per possession is the 18th worst team in the country in defensive efficiency.

Their last four doubleheader opponents have been from the bottom half of the league and the Grizzlies are still just 5-3 straight up and ATS over that stretch, so them laying points to the conference leader here makes no sense. I’ve also mentioned the zig-zag impact for Cleveland State, as the average margin for the Vikings is 7.4 points better in first leg games. I think they get whatever they want against this awful Oakland defense on their way to a win, and I’ll gladly take two points of insurance.

Tiny Nick is 145-85 ATS (+56.1 Units) on his Locks since joining Zone Coverage. 

Every day he will offer his Locks and Degenerate picks. Locks are the games he’s confident in. Degenerates are entertaining but riskier picks.