Tiny Nick’s Gambling Picks: 12/23 – Zone Coverage

Locks

NCAA Basketball – Illinois -3.5 @ Penn State (-110):

This is what happens when one of the best teams in the country goes 2-3 over an absolutely brutal 5-game stretch. I still think Illinois is a Final Four contender, and this presents a buy-low opportunity because of those losses, two of them by only three points, against really good competition.

Penn State is just overmatched in this game. They play a very guard-centric rotation and don’t have an actual center to match up with Kofi Cockburn down low. The Nittany Lions have also struggled to shoot the ball, and are being dragged down by the high volume/low percentage shooting of Myreon Jones. I see them getting bullied down low, missing a lot of shots, and losing the rebounding battle — allowing the Illini to win comfortably. Lay the short road price with the far superior team here.

NCAA Basketball – Villanova -3.5 @ Marquette (-110):

Villanova has been proving they’re a championship contender over their past five games since the strange Virginia Tech loss. Their road win at Texas was by far the most impressive. Marquette meanwhile has been proving they’re a ways away still. If not for a crazy second-half comeback at Creighton, this team would be on a 4-game losing streak, including a deflating buzzer-beater on Sunday.

Villanova is just so technically sound and disciplined defensively, they present a really tough matchup for a developing team like Marquette. Plus, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl might be the best two-way forward in the country and will be able to frustrate star freshman Dawson Garcia. I like Villanova here at a relatively short price and the market agrees, driving this up from a -2.5 open and continuing to steam so grab it soon.

Degenerates

NCAA Basketball – Missouri-Kansas City @ St. Louis -23 (-110):

Anyone paying a little attention knows I’ve been talking up the Billikens this season, and while this is a lot of points I still like the spot for them here. St. Louis is coming off their first loss of the season at Minnesota where they shot very poorly from deep and couldn’t stop putting the Gophers on the line.

I expect their defense to bounce back in a big way here, as UMKC against D1 opponents is one of the more offensively-challenged teams in the country, averaging only 60.5 PPG against unimpressive competition. I just don’t see how they can keep up with the 21st best shooting team in the country, especially in a spot where the Billikens are looking to take out some frustration. St. Louis rolls here, and I’d expect a margin of 30 or more.

NCAA Basketball – Western Illinois (+16) @ DePaul (-110):

This is a trend play for me on an interesting angle unique to this season. Teams playing their first game of the year, even quality teams against inferior competition, have been really struggling. A recent example is Monday when Vermont, easily the best team in their conference, lost outright as a 10 point favorite against UMass Lowell and then beat them the next day in the rematch.

It’s looking like another tough season for the Blue Demons, and after several cancelations, I think they struggle out of the gate here. Western Illinois has been a profitable team this year, 4-1 ATS with an outright win in their last game. This is just too many points for an inexperienced team to cover, so I’m playing the angle with a strong underdog team.

Tiny Nick is 75-33 (+40.7 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.