NBA (0.5 Unit) Atlanta Hawks @ Cleveland Cavaliers -4.5 (-110; Odds via Caesars): 6:30 PM CT on Bally Sports OH
The Cavaliers have really been plagued all season by having Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland in and out of the lineup, lacking any real consistency. But they’re both playing tonight for this key in-season tournament game, and that should give Cleveland the edge they need. The Hawks have shown no ability to defend, ranked 25th in defensive rating and efficiency, so the full-strength offense of the Cavs should have no problem scoring. Atlanta’s offense will be tough to slow down as always, but I’ll take the healthy home team here to get stops when it matters and score at will themselves.
NBA (0.75 Unit) Chicago Bulls @ Boston Celtics -4.5 First Quarter (-110; Odds via Fanduel): 6:30 PM CT on NBCS-Boston
I love a matchup of best versus worst. Well technically second worst, which is where Chicago ranks in average first quarter margin at minus-3.9 points. Compare that to league-leading Boston at plus-6.2 points, and I can easily see a runaway to start this game. It’s what the Celtics have been doing for years, especially in home games against overmatched opponents. I’d say Chicago, who appears to be tanking and might be without Zach LaVine tonight, definitely qualifies as outmatched here. Boston will want to run up the score tonight for the average margin tiebreaker being used in the tournament, so I see that starting right away.
NCAA Basketball (0.25 Unit) Michigan State Team Total Over 85.5 (-110; Odds via Fanduel): 5:30 PM CT on BTN
The total has been on the rise in this game, well above what most metrics sites are projecting. It’s strange for a Michigan State game given their shooting problems, but it’s not strange for a Georgia Southern game. The Eagles are 344th in points allowed and 340th in adjusted defensive efficiency, against a schedule that’s been very soft.
And while Michigan State has really struggled from beyond the arc, Georgia Southern will let them do whatever they want from downtown, ranked 355th in opponent 3-point percentage. The Spartans come into this game angry after dropping out of the top-25, so I can see them taking it out on a bad opponent and fixing some offensive issues in the process.
NCAA Basketball (1 Unit) Nicholls State/Baylor First Half Over 73.5 (-110; Odds via Caesars): 7:00 PM CT on ESPN+
Baylor is going to want to step on this outmatched Nicholls team right away, and will have no trouble doing it. This Bears offense is really coming alive as all the new perimeter pieces gel, now up to 2nd in adjusted efficiency. And since getting their 3-point shooting on track, Baylor has been lighting up first halves with 45.3 points per game.
All of their 3 home games against cupcake opponents went over this first half total with 79.7 points on average. Nicholls will have no problem playing at the up-tempo style that Baylor dictates, and I think that gets us over this total that’s too low compared to the full-game number.
NCAA Basketball (0.5 Unit) Clemson/Alabama Over 159.5 (-110; Odds via Caesars): 8:30 PM CT on ESPN
I think this total is relatively fair, as most metrics sites have it in this range including KenPom at 160 points. Any time Alabama is involved there are going to be points, as the Tide are up to first nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and points per game. At least one team has put up 90-plus in every Alabama game as the Tide have gone 5-1 over this total. That establishes a really solid floor of scoring to help get over this big number.
And I think the key is a new-look Clemson team that’s more talented offensively than they’ve been in years. The Tigers are up to 35th in adjusted offensive efficiency, and star center PJ Hall should score at will inside against a Tide team that struggles to defend the paint. It’s also a higher-stakes game here that could see late fouls pad the scoring, so I’m looking to the over with these talented offenses squaring off.
No degenerates today.
Tiny Nick is 1705-1504 ATS (+84.9 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.