Mar 10, 2023; Frisco, TX, USA; North Texas Mean Green guard Rubin Jones (15) scores a three point basket against UAB Blazers forward KJ Buffen (5) during the second half at Ford Center at The Star. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a pretty light slate of game today but we have managed to isolate three plays that we like:
6 p.m. CT: NIT Quarterfinal- No. 1 Oklahoma St. vs. No. 2 North Texas
The Picks: Under 124 (-110) Caesars, North Texas +4.5 (-110) Caesars
While 124 is a pretty darn low total, both these teams play at a very slow pace, with North Texas placing at 363 (slowest) in Division I in adjusted tempo according to KenPom and Oklahoma St. at 166 in adjusted tempo. That means fewer possessions which means fewer opportunities for points. Both of these teams are also elite defensive teams, the Cowboys are 12th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency via KenPom, while the Mean Green rank 26th. Add in that both teams are pretty ordinary offensive teams that rank among the worst in Division I in turnover percentage and the fact that tournament settings always make for lower-scoring games, and this one has the look of a first-one to 60 wins type of game that I believe has a real chance to end up with both teams in the 50s.
As for the spread, in what is likely to be a very close, low-scoring matchup, we will look to the free throw line for our edge tonight. Neither of these teams is an elite offensive team by any stretch, but North Texas has the better offensive profile based on nearly every metric, with a significant edge at the charity stripe. The Mean Green convert on 76.2% of their free throws, while Oklahoma St. connects on just 69.8% of its chances at the line. In physical, defensive struggles like this one should be the team that converts at the free throw line usually comes out on top; that team is North Texas, and while I’m not sure they prevail, I think this game is a one-possession game at the end making the 4.5 points too juicy to pass up.
9 p.m. CT: NBA: Celtics at Kings
The Pick: Celtics -4.5 (-110) Caesars
This play is based on a rested team versus a team on the second night of a back-to-back. I know the Celtics are on the final leg of a six-game road trip which does not necessarily help our case, but the Kings are traveling back home for the second night of a back-to-back after a tough loss to Utah while Boston last played on March 18th. Many times finding spots in the NBA during the grind of the regular season is all about opportunities, and we think we found one here. Lay the points and roll with the Celts.