Tiny Nick’s Gambling Picks: 03/17


NCAA Tournament (0.5 Unit) Xavier/Kennesaw St Over 154 (-110; Odds via Caesars): 11:40 AM CT on truTV

I actually think Kennesaw can compete here, but if they’re going to accomplish that it’ll require scoring with Xavier’s elite offense. The Musketeers are 9th in adjusted offensive efficiency, 11th in scoring, and own a 21-12-1 record to the over as a result this season. But Kennesaw’s style of offense seems like it can find plenty of success against a Xavier squad that’s 267th in points allowed.

The Owls love to slash and kick, which is a style the Musketeers have struggled with all year long. On the outside for Kennesaw will be 5 rotation players who shoot better than 35% from deep, and as a team are 35th in 3-point percentage. Xavier is just 281st in opponent percentage from long range so the Owls should be firing away. That’s a style that I see leading to plenty of points even in an early game.


NCAA Tournament (0.5 Unit) VCU +4.5 vs St Mary’s (-110; Odds via Caesars): 1:00 PM CT on TBS

St Mary’s is a great metrics team but haven’t passed the eye test for me, so don’t be surprised if VCU wins this outright. I’ll take more than a possession worth of points though in a game that I expect to be slow, low-scoring, and open to plenty of variance potential. That naturally benefits the underdog, and it’s always worth backing a 12-seed over a 5-seed with those dogs going 8-4 ATS the past 3 years.

One thing you’re almost guaranteed to get with St Mary’s is scoring droughts, as such a slow pace and mediocre shooting away from home cause them to go cold for long stretches. Those might come more often here as their guard-reliant offense could struggle against such a harassing and aggressive VCU backcourt. The Rams are playing their best basketball right now, have a true star in Ace Baldwin, and should make this game extremely tight.


NCAA Tournament (0.5 Unit) Vermont Team Total Over 66.5 (-110; Odds via Caesars): 1:45 PM CT on CBS

Vermont got an excellent draw here for their offensive style. The Catamounts rely heavily on isolation sets in the half-court, and if those don’t generate a good look they kick it out for catch-and-shoot three’s. Marquette ranks 321st in half-court defensive efficiency, 309th against isolation, and 258th in opponent three-point percentage.

That’s a lot of struggles for the Golden Eagles against a team that’s top-20 in effective field goal rate, so I see Vermont having a very efficient day on the offensive end. Marquette is going to score effectively themselves though as they’re ranked 8th in adjusted offensive efficiency. So Vermont will need to keep up, and I think that raises the floor for the Catamounts in a game that could sneakily be closer than expected.


NCAA Tournament (0.5 Unit) Drake Moneyline vs Miami (+115; Odds via Caesars): 6:25 PM CT on TBS

As I mentioned above with VCU, 12-seeds are 8-4 ATS versus 5-seeds the past 3 tournaments, but this calls for a straight upset. Drake is one of the hottest teams in the country, on an 8-1 straight up and ATS run and absolutely crushing everyone in the Missouri Valley tournament. They’re ranked 12th by Bart Torvik’s metrics over that span compared to 62nd for Miami.

Current form means quite a lot, especially with an underdog needing the confidence to play with a power conference team. Drake does not seem like they’ll be intimidated by either the Hurricanes or the moment, as they have four starters who are 5th-year seniors, plus Tucker DeVries who should have success against the smaller Miami guards. Canes big man Norchad Omier has not practiced with an ankle injury, and that makes the outlook even grimmer for Miami, so I’m picking the Bulldogs to spring the small upset.


NCAA Tournament (1 Unit) Gonzaga/Grand Canyon Over 155.5 (-110; Odds via Caesars): 6:35 PM CT on truTV

Grand Canyon’s biggest problem in this game is going to be their defense. The Lopes come into the tournament with the 5th-worst adjusted defensive efficiency of all 68 teams, and it has only been getting worse as the season progresses. It’s the biggest reason why they were the best over bet of any team this season at 25-8 to the over. Matching it up against the country’s highest-scoring and most efficient offense is a recipe for a lot of points.

Grand Canyon’s modus operandi, and best hope of staying in this game, is to fire away from deep. GCU takes the 38th-most three’s in the country, and makes them at the 22nd-best percentage. Against a Gonzaga defense ranked 250th in opponent 3-point percentage and 331st in open-3 rate allowed, plenty will go in for the Lopes. But they won’t be able to stop anything all night, especially when the Zags hit the gas, so this game should be the highest-scoring of the day.

Bonus Bet (0.75 Unit) Gonzaga -15.5 (-110; Odds via Caesars)

It’s a lot of points to lay here, but if Gonzaga wants to win by margin they will with ease. That expected barrage of three-point attempts from GCU will also create a lot of long rebounds that Gonzaga will use to create run-outs and score in transition. They’ll also chew up the Lopes inside all night, exploiting the poor defense to pull away.


NCAA Tournament (0.75 Unit) Florida Atlantic vs Memphis -2 (-110; Odds via Caesars): 8:20 PM CT on TNT

The ceiling for Memphis is sky high, so don’t be surprised if they make the Elite 8 or Final 4 in their current form. Not only are they hot after winning the American tournament, ranked 17th in momentum metrics, they’re also ranked 30th in consistency metrics and have quietly been strong all year. The Tigers went 6-2 ATS against fellow tournament teams this season, including 4-0 ATS against Houston and Alabama.

I think they’re a good matchup for a quality Florida Atlantic team, who’s probably a little under-seeded themselves. But the Owls are too reliant on the long ball, ranked 26th in highest percentage of their points from three-pointers. The Memphis guards will slow that down as they are excellent, athletic, and as a team are 26th in three-point percentage allowed. They should also be able to post up against the smaller FAU guards for easy points, as well as score easily in transition. This should be a good game, but the hotter and more proven Tigers should come out on top.


No degenerates today.


Tiny Nick is 1158-997 ATS (+79.6 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. 

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