As always, for more information behind each pick, watch Free Money Friday Every Day on the ESPN106.7 twitter account every weekday at 3 pm or listen to the Free Money Friday Every Day podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Sticher, or espnau.com.
Today is a new day with a new slate, so I don’t love to spend a lot of time looking at yesterday’s slate. There’s not a big reason to get too worked up over one day, but it is worth looking at what went right/wrong. I don’t really look at the Sprinkles in hindsight though because I don’t totally expect the team to win. That’s why I only sprinkle the ML. I believe they have a good chance, but I don’t expect the win.
- Ole Miss +9 – Push on FTs at the end.
- Ole Miss +4.5 1H – lost by 7. Auburn’s best first half maybe all season.
- Ole Miss/Auburn O141 – 125 total, Breein Tyree has his worst game of the season and Ole Miss turned the ball over like 100 times.
- Ole Miss 1H ML – lost by 7.
- UK/TAMU O129 – Push
- TAMU +3 1H – lost by 9. I was just wrong about this one.
- OKC -7 – blew a 20-point lead I think
- Bama/MSST O159 – 153 total points.
- Bama ML – lost by 7.
- NCST ML – lost by 6.
- NOP +7.5 – lost by 9.
Today’s Picks (Yesterday’s Record):
NCAAB 220-224-9 (1-4-2):
Evansville @ UNI:
- Spread: UNI -15 (now UNI -13.5)
- O/U: 138 (now 135.5)
This is a Poor ATS vs Good ATS game. We have gone 22-7 in these games this season. Northern Iowa has covered 68% of games this season, and Evansville has covered a measly 38.5%. Evansville is on the road in a conference game, so we’ll happily take the 15 points.
The Pick: Evansville +15 (now +13.5)
Utah Valley @ Cal Baptist:
- Spread: Cal Baptist -6 (now -6.5)
- O/U: 150
Just like Evansville vs UNI, this is a Poor ATS vs Good ATS game. Cal Baptist has covered 68.2% of their games on the season, and Utah Valley has only covered 40% of games. Those are both comfortably within our optimal percentages, and since it is a road conference game, we will take Utah Valley.
The Pick: Utah Valley +6 (now +6.5)
Rutgers @ Penn State:
- Spread: Penn State -6 (now -5)
- O/U: 136 (now 137.5)
I was going to stay away from this game, but I have decided to fade the public in this game. Rutgers has gotten 20% of the bets so far in this one, so I will probably wait to make sure that number doesn’t increase a whole bunch. Keep an eye on my twitter to see when/if I pull the trigger.
The Pick: Rutgers +5 (probably)
Maryland @ Minnesota:
- Spread: Minnesota -1 (now -1)
- O/U: 131 (now 134.5)
I know what you’re thinking, “Big Ten home teams not named Nebraska and Northwestern have won 78.13% of games this season!” You’re correct. They have.
In fact, Minnesota is 5-3 at home in Big Ten play! However, their losses are to Michigan State, Iowa, and Indiana in 3 of their last 4 home games.
Maryland is 4-4 on the road with wins over Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan State in 3 of their last 4 road games.
Maryland’s loss to Ohio State on Sunday snapped a 9-game winning streak. They were 12-2 in their last 14 games before the Ohio State game.
Minnesota being a 1-point home favorite means that Maryland would be between a 2- and 4-point favorite on a neutral court. Since Maryland has shown that they can win on the road in the Big Ten, I am happy to take the Terps as a tiny road underdog.
In the interest of full disclosure, this is a “Fade the Public in Big Conferences” game. Maryland has received just 18% of bets which are accounting for 40% of money.
The Pick: Maryland +1
Missouri @ Vanderbilt:
- Spread: Mizzou -2.5 (now -2)
- O/U: 142 (now 138.5)
Mizzou has won one (1) game on the road this season. It was December 7th against Temple. They have only covered the spread in two (2) road games this season. Vanderbilt has covered in 6 of their last 8 games. Those covers came against UGA, Tennessee, Miss State, LSU, Florida, and Kentucky.
The big edge for Vandy in this game is at the FT line. The Commodores are ranked 50th in the country in point distribution from the charity stripe. Mizzou opponents are #3 nationally in point distribution from the FT line. The Tigers foul a ton.
Vandy has been perfectly average against the spread in this spot. They have covered in 50% of their games this season, as a home underdog, with 2-3 days off, in conference games, with equal rest, and after a loss. They are just under 50% in home games and just over 50% as an underdog.
That is enough for me.
The Pick: Vanderbilt +2.5 (now -2)
Summit League 18-16 (10-4 last week):
Denver @ IPFW:
- Spread: IPFW -7.5 (now -7.5)
- O/U: 144 (now 146)
Setting the Stage: Denver is 2-12 in conference, and IPFW is 5-9. They are in 8th and 7th place in the league, respectively. The Mastodons are coming off a 2-point home loss to Nebraska Omaha, a game in which they were also a 7.5-point favorite. Denver is coming off a 4-point OT win against Oral Roberts at home. They were 6.5-point underdogs, and they scored 100 points.
Trends: IPFW is 9-5 at home this season, but three (3) of those wins have come against Manchester, Ohio Norther, and Judson College. So, against D1 opponents, IPFW is 6-5 and only 3-4 in Summit League play. They beat South Dakota on Jan 1, North Dakota on Jan 30, and Western Illinois on Feb 5. IPFW has covered 2 of those 7 Summit League games, against the two Dakotas.
North and South Dakota are both better than Denver, especially on the road. Denver has not won on the road all season (0-13, 0-7) and has only won once outside of their building (1-15). The Pioneers have covered 5 of their 7 road games in conference play. Their only two losses ATS came against W Illinois on Jan 11 and Nebraska Omaha on Feb 16. These last two paragraphs make it seem like W Illinois is good, but they are 5-19 (2-12) and, in fact, not good. This is unrelated, but I felt like it needed to be said.
Summit League home teams have only covered 7 out of 26 games in February, a whopping 26.92%. This is a very interesting game though because neither of these teams is very good.
Denver has scored an average of 73.7 points in their road conference games, and those game have had an average total of 157.57 with a max of 168 and a min of 147. Obviously, they haven’t had a road conference game under 144, and their defense seems to be the issue. They have given up 83.86 points/game in these 7 games.
IPFW has scored an average of 66.43 points in their home conference games, and those games have had an average total of 136.43 with a max of 160 and a min of 120. Only one (1) of their home conference games has gone over 144, the game that got to 160 on Jan 18th against Oral Roberts. ORU scored 92 points, the most IPFW has given up at home by 21.
On the Court: When you compare how IPFW has played at home during conference play to the rest of the Summit League, they rank 9th in offensive efficiency and turnover percentage; 8th in FT Rate, 2P%, and 3P%; 1st in defensive efficiency and defensive rebounding; and 2nd in opponent FT Rate. They also play at the 2nd slowest pace. Basically, they stink at offense, getting to the free throw line, and shooting, but they are great at defense and not fouling.
A major reason for the offensive struggles and defensive prowess may be because they play so slow. They use a lot of the shot clock which can cause an offense to take bad shots because they are running out of time. This would also impact their turnover percentage. Their non-steal turnover percentage is 293rd in the country and dead last in the Summit League, per KenPom. This means that they have a lot of turnovers that are “unforced”, things like shot clock violations, offensive fouls, traveling, etc. They also have had their shots blocked more often than any other Summit League team which could also be due to forcing tough shots at the end of the shot clock.
As I mentioned earlier, Denver has not won a road game all season (0-13, 0-7), and it isn’t difficult to see why when you compare how they have played to how the other Summit League teams have played on the road during conference play. The Pioneers rank 7th in offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, opponent turnover percentage, and offensive rebounding; 8th in turnover percentage; and 9th in opponent free throw rate. They have played at the 2nd fastest pace. This means they struggle to score, defend, force turnovers, grab offensive rebounds, not turn the ball over, and not foul.
Some of these deficiencies might be associated with the speed at which at they play. Their tempo during conference play has been 72.6, per KenPom. If they had played at that pace all season, it would be 25th in the country. A lot of teams that play that fast have trouble being efficient, not turning the ball over, and grabbing offensive rebounds. A main issue for Denver is that the best teams that play that fast are good at forcing turnovers which creates more possessions for them. Denver is not.
Analysis: The way that IPFW plays should benefit Denver in this game. IPFW wants to slow the game down, but they turn the ball over a ton. Denver should get some extra possessions and be able to hang around in this game. Denver is going to have to step up on defense, but they should be aided by IPFW’s complete inability to shoot the basketball. I don’t think that IPFW is going to get to Denver’s opponent’s scoring average of almost 84 points. Their highest total in a home conference game is 75. Denver’s offense has scored fewer points each road game, so I think this game is going to end up somewhere around 70-65.
The Pick: Denver +7.5 & Under 146
North Dakota @ Nebraska-Omaha:
- Spread: Nebraska-Omaha -5.5 (now -5.5)
- O/U: 153 (now 154)
Setting the Stage: North Dakota is 13-15 (7-7), and Omaha is 15-14 (8-6). They are in 5th and 4th place in the league, respectively. North Dakota got a huge home win over North Dakota State as 4.5-point underdogs in their last game. Nebraska-Omaha is coming off a 7-point road win over Summit League bottom feeder Western Illinois. They were 4.5-point favorites.
Trends: Nebraska-Omaha is 11-2 at home this season and 5-2 at home during conference play. They are 6-4 ATS as a home favorite, 7-4 ATS at home, and 8-6 ATS after a win, but they are only 3-4 ATS at home during Summit League play. North Dakota is 4-11 on the road this season and 2-4 on the road during conference play with wins against Denver and W Illinois, the two worst teams in the Summit League. They are 5-9 ATS in conference games, 2-4 ATS in conference road games, 4-8 ATS after a win, 8-17 ATS on the season (one of the worst in the country), 5-13 ATS as an underdog, 4-11 ATS on the road, and 2-11 ATS as a road underdog.
Summit League home teams have only covered 7 out of 26 games in February, a whopping 26.92%.
North Dakota has averaged 74.83 points in their road conference games, and those games have averaged 155.5 points with a max of 169 and a min of 140. They have given up an average of 80.67 points and a median of 83 points.
Nebraska-Omaha has scored 80 points/game in home conference games, and those games have averaged 155.29 points with a max of 169 and a min of 141. They have given up an average of 75.29 points and a median of 78 points.
On the Court: Nebraska-Omaha has been very bad at defensive at home during conference play. They rank dead last in the Summit League in defensive efficiency, opponent effective field goal percentage, defensive rebounding, and opponent 2-point field percentage. The only thing they can do well on defense is force turnovers. They have been the best in the Summit League at forcing turnovers at home during conference play. They are also pretty good at not fouling, ranking 3rd in the conference in opponent free throw rate in such games.
On offense, the Mavericks have been just fine. They rank between 4th and 7th in every offensive statistic in home games during Summit League play except turnover percentage (3rd).
North Dakota is a super interesting team when they have played on the road in conference. They have been good at offense (3rd in Summit League in offensive efficiency), GREAT at offensive rebounding (2nd), getting to the free throw line (2nd in FT Rate), and shooting inside the arc (2nd in 2P%), but they have been terrible at shooting 3-pointers only making 25.2% which causes their effective field goal percentage to be 8th in the conference at only 49%.
On defense, the Fighting Hawks have been just as perplexing. They are 6th in defensive efficiency, but their opponent effective field goal percentage ranks 3rd in the conference. They have been very bad at defensive rebounding (8th) and defending the arc (9th in 3P%) where they have allowed opponents to make over 40% of their shots. Their defense inside the arc has been incredible. They have only allowed opponents to make 48.3% of their shots, good for 1st in the Summit League.
Analysis: I think that Nebraska-Omaha’s defensive ineptitude really leaves the door open for North Dakota in this game. If North Dakota can limit their own turnovers, this should be a close game. Both teams have not been good on defense, but both are very good at the few things they actually do well. I think this is going to be a very tight game. I think both teams are going to be able to score over their averages due to their opposition’s defensive issues. I think this is a game that could go either way with both teams ending up in the high 70s or low 80s. I cannot imagine that both teams will score below their season averages which is what they would have to do for this game to go under.
The Pick: North Dakota +5.5 & Over 153.5
NBA 72-69 (1-2):
Celtics +5.5 @ Jazz:
The Jazz are not 5-points better than any good team right now, and Brad Stevens is still absolutely stupidly good as a road underdog.
76ers -7.5 @ Cavaliers:
We are going to fade the tanking team once again.
Magic @ Hawks U226:
I know what you’re thinking, “an under in a Hawks game? Are you crazy? They don’t play defense.” To answer your questions: yes, maybe.
This under fits two different profitable systems that I track, so I am going to take it.
Sprinkles 39-64 (1-3):
Vandy ML hosting Mizzou
North Dakota ML @ NEOM
LSU ML @ Florida
Florida has been wildly inconsistent all season and even at home. They have allowed between 98 and 47 points. They have scored between 104 and 61 points. I have no idea what is going to happen in this game, but it should be fun and not at all surprising if LSU wins a must-win game for them.
Celtics ML @ Jazz
Brad. Stevens. Road. Underdog.
MikePick2 15-20 (1-0):
- Penn State ML hosting Rutgers
- Rutgers is 1-6 on the road in Big 10 play. Their only win was against Nebraska on Jan 3rd. Their second win will not be against #16 Penn State on Feb 26th.
- Arkansas ML hosting Tennessee
- Arkansas is still a bubble team, and just got Isaiah Joe back from injury. He and Miles Jones are one of the best backcourts in the SEC. Fayetteville is a tough place to play, and the Vols only road SEC wins are against Mizzou on Jan 7th, Vandy on Jan 18th, and Alabama by 1 on Feb 4th. They had to overcome a 15-point deficit and shot 2-18 from behind the arc in the win over Alabama.
- EVAN +15
- UVU +6
- RUTG +5 (probably)
- MD +1
- VAN +2.5
- DEN +7.5
- DEN/IPFW U146
- UND +5.5
- UND/NEOM O153.5
- Celtics +5
- Sixers -7.5
- Magic/Hawks U226
- VAN ML
- UND ML
- LSU ML
- BOS ML
- MP2: PSU ML & ARK ML