NBA (0.5 units) New Orleans Pelicans/Denver Nuggets Over 228 (-110): 7:00 p.m. CT on Altitude
Consider me a miscreant in New Orleans’ solid new defense, with the Pelicans allowing just 95.5 PPG since the All-Star break. But that’s come up against dubious competition, and there should be some regression for a team that sits in the bottom half of the NBA in defensive ratings. The Pelicans have done their part to enter high-scoring games, averaging 122.3 points, so what they need is a high-scoring opponent.
I think they finally found one today in the Denver Nuggets, a team averaging 118 PPG since the break. It’s an interesting game, because part of New Orleans’ success has been using greater range and controlling the interior. But Denver’s frontcourt can really stretch the ground while struggling to defend just about anything. In a game that won’t be played at a particularly high pace, I see this matchup leading to easy buckets and high-scoring play.
NCAA Basketball (0.25 unit) Samford +8.5 vs. Furman (-110): 5:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU
If you watched a college basketball game last week, you know to take the underdog and your heart meds. Apparently, every game comes down to the wire, which makes this spread too many points.
Samford is also just under the radar here, as the Bulldogs aren’t getting enough credit for how they finished the season. Their only loss in the past month was on the road to regular-season champion Chattanooga, and also knocked out that Furman team in that streak. Yes, Furman is extremely talented, with one of the best offenses in the entire country. But the Paladins rely heavily on 3-point shooting, and while Samford’s defense hasn’t been anything special this season, they’ve done a much better job of defending all three of late.
And it’s not the first hugely talented team that Furman coach Bob Richey has had, but he’s never made it past this round of the SoCon tournament. It’s a tough time of year and a tough situation to score that many points, so I’m going to take them with a Bulldogs team that should keep it tight.
NCAA Basketball (0.25 unit) Georgia St. -3 vs. Appalachian St. (-110): 7:30 p.m. CT on ESPN+
Okay, so I don’t necessarily take all the underdogs, but it’s different because I love Georgia State. Even though they gave me a bad shot yesterday by the hook, the same principles still apply to this sneaky team.
After yesterday’s quarter-final win, the Panthers have now racked up 8 straight wins. I spoke yesterday about the impact of COVID on this team, and a perfect example of their turnaround is the season series against Appalachian State. Included in those 8 wins is a 9-point victory over the Mountaineers, a revenge for a 1-point home loss in January with a decimated roster. App State simply doesn’t have an answer for the Panthers’ tough defense, or for Kane Williams who looks like the best player in the Sun Belt.
And although the Mountaineers finished second in the conference, they didn’t end the season strong. A bad shot, especially from the free throw line, continues to complicate things on this team. I see a resurgent Georgia State team continuing their solid play as they move on to the conference title game.
NCAA Basketball (0.25 unit) Western Illinois +6 vs. Oral Roberts (-110): 8:30 p.m. CT on ESPN+
Yes, back to the conference tournament underdogs here. It’s tough because Oral Roberts has all the talent they need, but the pre-season Summit favorite just didn’t live up to expectations. That’s especially true down the stretch, with the Golden Eagles ending the season 5-5 and 3-7 ATS. Max Abmas wasn’t at the top of his game, and the supporting cast couldn’t handle the load.
They also struggled with this western Illinois team, barely splitting the season series with a 1-point win on the road and a 5-point loss at home. The Leathernecks are a very similar team to Oral Roberts, fast paced with a high volume of 3-point attempts. But WIU’s size is what gave them an edge over ORU this season, especially Luka Barisic’s ability to stretch the floor. If the Leathernecks can knock down a few threes tonight, they’re a live underdog against a slightly overrated team in terms of name recognition.
NCAA Basketball Boston/Navy Over 126.5 (-110): 3:00 p.m. CT on CBSSN
Usually you hold your nose to get a penny for a game like this, but I hold my nose and I get the upper hand. Navy has been a great under bet all season, with their slow pace and tough zone defense. And while they finished the season 8-2 under, the 2 overs are in their last 2 games, and I smell another one here.
Particularly with Boston involved, as the Terriers have been a good bet on the year and over time. Their last 10 games have gone over 8 times, all against considerably higher totals than this one. Boston also plays slow, but executes extremely well in the half court and should see success against the Navy zone. This total also ignores how these teams have played this season, scoring 154 and 137 points in the two meetings. It should be a close game with fouls and free throws inflating the late score, so with such a low total, I’ll take a chance.
Tiny Nick has a record of 629-512 ATS (+77.6 units) on his locks since joining Zone Coverage.
Each day it will offer its Locks and Degenerate choices. The locks are the games he trusts. Degenerates are fun but riskier choices.