Tiny Nick Game Pick: 3/04

Locks

NBA (0.5 units) Minnesota Timberwolves / OKC Thunder Over 230 (-110): 7:00 p.m. CT on Bally Sports North

Wolves took the top spot for best all-game record this season, but they are back on the road tonight when I’m most comfortable betting their overs. With little more than a G-League roster on the other side, this game should feature virtually no defense.

Give credit to Oklahoma City for playing hard with a roster full of names I barely recognize and scoring enough points to cash in the most in 6 straight games. But the Thunder are so reliant on those reserves and those calls right now that they just can’t offer much defensive resistance to legitimate NBA offenses. This will again be a problem against a Wolves team that clicks offensively, picking up 127 and 129 points respectively against the strong defenses of Cleveland and Golden State.

But what really matters is the kind of style that seems to define every Wolves road game. Their last 8 road games have averaged an astonishing 249.4 points, and Minnesota now hits the most in road games at a 78.1% clip. Look no further than the season streak between these teams, which combined for 188 points at Minneapolis and 240 at Oklahoma City. Count on me to believe the road trend continues here.

NBA (0.5 units) NY Knicks/Phoenix Suns Under 223 (-110): 9:00 p.m. CT on ESPN

These teams haven’t played since the day after Thanksgiving, and a lot is different with the two rosters heading into tonight’s rematch. The Suns will continue to be without both Chris Paul and Devin Booker tonight, who were both major contributors in the first meeting, as was Kemba walker who was arrested for New York. That takes a lot of pop out of a game that’s only reached 215 total points so far.

The Knicks’ defense has really slipped lately, allowing 116.8 PPG over the last 10 games. But I don’t see a Suns team missing their starting backcourt by taking advantage of it too much, certainly not enough to reach that total. The Knicks are playing at the 3rd slowest pace and are also the 3rd worst shooting team in the league. A Suns team with the 2nd best defensive rating should be able to hold them off, limiting the score enough to take the least here.

NCAA Basketball (0.5 units) Buffalo @ Kent St. -2.5 (-110): 5:00 p.m. CT on ESPNU

I love the location here for Kent State, and I think we’re seeing a motivated team of Golden Flashes taking care of business in a pretty high stakes game.

The Flashes can get revenge on Buffalo here, the only team to defeat them in their last 14 games. I love the home revenge spots in college basketball, especially with the added stakes of Kent State playing for an eventual conference crown. It would take a shocking loss in Toledo to do that, but the Flashes also have the advantage of securing the second seed in the MAC Tournament.

That motivation is huge, especially for a team already full of confidence thanks to their 11-game winning streak and 9-1 ATS run. Buffalo is also pretty hot, 9-1 over the last 10 games. But they’re just 4-6 ATS in those games that have all been against teams in the bottom half of the MAC standings, and they were brought back to reality by Tuesday’s 16-point home loss to Toledo. I just think the Bulls are getting into a circular saw here, and I see a convincing Kent State win coming.

NCAA basketball (0.5 unit) San Diego vs. Portland -1 (-110): 10:30 p.m. CT on the WCC Network

I know it’s a conference tournament environment on neutral ground, but that line makes absolutely no sense. Did anyone miss the way Portland finished this season, winning 5 of 6 and posting a 10-4 ATS record in WCC play? This team is much better than you think, with an attack that has come alive over time. San Diego should know that very well, as they had 92 points put on them by Portland in a 32-point loss just two weeks ago.

Sure, the Toreros managed to win against the Pilots at the start of the WCC season, but they needed overtime to do so in a game that was played long before Portland set things up. Portland’s improved offense and up-tempo style was the difference in Game 2 and will be again tonight because San Diego just doesn’t have the firepower to keep up. These teams are much further away than a single point, even in this context, so I will support the Drivers to continue their strong game.

degenerate

NCAA Basketball Morehead St. +4.5 vs. Belmont (-110): 9:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU

I lost faith in Belmont, and that’s what it boils down to. The pre-season hype for this team was incredible and believable given that they returned the most goals from last season of any team in the country. But that just didn’t materialize this year and as a result they struggled with the other top teams in the Ohio Valley. Getting blown up twice by a great Murray State team is one thing, but the Bruins had their issues with that Morehead State team as well.

Those teams split the season series, but Morehead led Game 2 until the final moments and likely should have won the season sweep. I think they’re atoning for that last-second loss tonight because they’re exactly the kind of team Belmont is struggling with. The Eagles’ superior athleticism caused Belmont problems in both games and a game nightmare John Broome has been a major problem for Belmont over the past two seasons. So while I think the Eagles win this, I’ll take the points considering the close games they’ve had this season.

Tiny Nick has a record of 625-508 ATS (+77.9 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.

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