Tiny Nick’s Playing Picks: 2/5

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Castles

NCAA Basketball – Akron @ Kent State -2 (-110): 6 p.m. CST on ESPNU

I really like this revenge spot for Kent State here. The Golden Lightning is a serious MAC contender with just three conference losses for a total of eight points – two of them against conference leader Toledo and a 4-point loss at Akron to start the conference game.

Kent State is an offensive machine, especially at home where they have scored 1,125 points per possession in their last three wins. You will be able to produce against Akron’s 136th rank of defense in terms of efficiency. This is an important statistic here as it is way too low for a team that had a poor schedule against MAC Bottom Feeder in seven of their last nine games and was exposed at another point of revenge in Toledo on Tuesday.

Put the short number here with Kent State, and when striker Danny Pippen leads them to a win, keep in mind he’s not related to Scottie.

NCAA Basketball – UTEP @ UAB -7.5 (-110): 6:30 p.m. CST on ESPN +

As with most UAB games, defense will rule in this game. We have a pretty serious mismatch for this game, however, as the Blazers are the best in the country and only allow for 0.82 points per possession. You should be able to take full control of this game against a miners’ crime which efficiency is 176.

UTEP is only 1-4 ATS in conference street games while UAB is unbeaten in conference home games, taking all but a double digit profit. UTEP has been easily beaten by the only other C-USA competitor they have faced on the road, North Texas, and I expect another comfortable win for UAB here.

This line should be double digits so lay the dots with the blazers.

Degenerate

NCAA Basketball – Boise State / Nevada Under 144.5 (-110): 8 p.m. CST on FS1

The zig zag trends that affect the grand total of the Mountain West games are becoming very reliable, especially with these two teams. By the time they had an 89-point breakout against a terrible UNLV defense, each of the conference games in the first leg in Nevada (a whopping 22.8 point average) had been rated lower than that total, plus the wolf pack are 12- 6 under that total on the season.

Boise State’s record is eerily similar. The games in the first leg are 16.2 points lower, 4: 1 below this total and the Broncos 10: 5 below this number in the season. These statistics aren’t too surprising, given that Boise ranks 21st in defensive efficiency, Nevada ranks 34th in percentage defense of field goals, and those teams combined only allowed 75 points in Mountain West game four times. Given the trends and the defenses under the radar, I just don’t see how we get to so many points in the opener of this double header.

NCAA Basketball – Cleveland St. +2 @ Oakland (-110): 6 p.m. CST on ESPN3

I’ve been a fan of this Cleveland State team throughout the game in the Horizon League, and I think that line is just wrong for a number of reasons. The most important of these is the statistical profile of this Oakland team, ranked 186th for offensive efficiency and the 18th worst team in the country for defensive efficiency with 1,103 points per possession.

Their last four double-header opponents were from the bottom half of the league, and the Grizzlies are still only 5-3 and ATS over that stretch, so there is no point giving the conference leader points here. I also mentioned the zigzag impact for Cleveland State, as the average margin for the Vikings in first leg games is 7.4 points better. I think they are getting whatever they want on the way to a win against that terrible Oakland defense and I will happily get two insurance points.

Tiny Nick has had ATS 145-85 (+56.1 units) on his locks since joining Zone Coverage.

Every day he offers his locks and degenerate picks. Castles are the games he is sure of. Degenerate are fun but riskier picks.