NBA (0.5 Unit) LA Lakers/Houston Rockets Over 230 (-110; Odds via Caesars): 7:00 PM CT on SportsNet LA
The Lakers can’t afford to lose a game like this given their precarious position in the playoff race, but it’s certainly possible on a back-to-back against a Houston team that just beat Boston on Monday. I’m fairly confident it’ll be another high-scoring game for Los Angeles though, as that’s their typical result in a back-to-back spot. The Lakers are a league-best 8-2 to the over with no rest, beating the total by 14.7 points on average.
It helps to go up against a Rockets defense that’s still second-worst in the NBA from an efficiency standpoint. While Houston has been somewhat more competitive lately, they’re still allowing 119.3 PPG since the break. Now they’ll get a Lakers team that leads the league in pace, and even with Anthony Davis resting will still have plenty of offensive firepower. I’m expecting an up-tempo game here with minimal defense, and that should spell over.
NIT Tournament (0.5 Unit) Morehead St @ Clemson -15.5 (-110; Odds via Caesars): 6:00 PM CT on ESPN+
The question here is whether we see angry Clemson in this game, and I think we will. The Tigers missed out on the big dance thanks to some ugly losses, but when they decide to put it on a team, watch out. They have the benefit of home court here in the NIT, and that’s important because they’ve won their past 4 home games against non-tournament teams by a 25.5 point average margin.
And those were ACC opponents, not a Morehead State team that managed to claim the regular season crown in a down year for the Ohio Valley. The Eagles played 3 power conference teams in their non-conference schedule this season, losing by at least this margin every time and 28.7 points on average. They just don’t have the defense to prevent Hunter Tyson and PJ Hall from going wild in this game, and that should carry Clemson to a blowout victory.
NIT Tournament (0.5 Unit) Alcorn State Team Total Under 53.5 (-110; Odds via Caesars): 7:00 PM CT on ESPN+
Alcorn State is accidentally in the NIT thanks to Grambling, who they split the regular season title with, declining a postseason invite. It’s not going to go well for them against one of the best defenses in the country here. North Texas checks in at 30th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and allowed the fewest points per game in the country this season. The fact that those numbers were built up against weak competition is fine by me since that’s exactly what Alcorn is.
The Braves feature one of the worst shooting offenses in the country, ranked 346th in effective field goal percentage. They’re even worse from beyond the arc, and consequently barely try to shoot from deep. And they won’t get many opportunities either, as North Texas grinds games down like no other. The Mean Green are dead last in possessions per game and adjusted tempo, so this game should be extremely slow-paced. That should result in minimal offense for both teams, but especially for the visitor who has no business being here.
NCAA Tournament Futures (Odds via Caesars)
As we talked about on my podcast, there’s a formula to determine which teams have the best chance of cutting down the nets this year. In the past 32 tournaments, every national champion has been top-20 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, a top-75 strength of schedule, 3-plus wins versus the RPI top-25, and been led by a coach with Sweet 16 experience. There were two exceptions in 2014 and 2021 where UConn and Baylor met all but one of those criteria. With that in mind, here are the teams that fit the model or have one exception that I’ll be making a futures bet on.
Alabama (2 Units; +700) – The Crimson Tide meet every criteria, I just wish they were worth rooting for.
Houston (0.25 Unit; +600) – The Cougars do not have the schedule strength and the Marcus Sasser injury is concerning, but are a dangerous team if he gets healthy.
Purdue (0.25 Unit; +1000) – The Boilermakers are 26th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and come from the Big10, but still have the most unstoppable force in the tournament with Zach Edey.
Kansas (0.75 Unit; +1000) – The Jayhawks are 29th in adjusted offensive efficiency and it’s tough to repeat, but you have to back the best team from the best conference.
Texas (0.75 Unit; +1500) – The Longhorns were at least the second-best team from the best conference, but their interim coach Rodney Terry does not have Sweet 16 experience.
UCLA (0.25 Unit; +1200) – The Bruins are 25th in adjusted offensive efficiency and lost their best defensive player Jaylen Clark, but have had moments of looking like the best team in the country.
UConn (0.25 Unit; +1500) – The Huskies were the best team during the non-conference slate this season and that’s what the tournament is all about, but coach Dan Hurley does not have Sweet 16 experience.
Creighton (0.25 Unit; +4000) – The Bluejays were preseason darlings that hit several rough patches and are just 28th in adjusted offensive efficiency, but this is a great price if they meet those preseason expectations.
No degenerates today.
Tiny Nick is 1151-989 ATS (+78.7 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.