Michigan State v Ohio State
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Football just ended, and we've still got March Madness to get through before it starts, but I'm legitimately excited about MLB this season in a way I haven't been for a while. With pitchers and catchers reporting this week, we've been treated to photos of players showing up to camp and throwing, but the photos that stood out and excited me more were of beat reporters huddling around bases.

While the absurdity of people amassing to take photos of bases to show the difference in sizes is funny, it's also exciting. MLB is making actual changes this season that could change the game. I know the default setting of The Baseball Fan is "change is bad!" no matter what, but the truth is, even if I enjoy the sport, MLB games have been longer than they needed to be for a while. The pitch clock will be strange at first, but we'll all adjust, and it will keep things moving quicker. As for the larger bases, they'll lead to more action on the basepaths, and more moments of action and excitement.

For all of the things MLB has done wrong over the years, this feels like something that could prove to be very right, and I can't wait to see it all play out. Nor can I wait any longer to read these stories.

To tonight's picks, which, admittedly, are going to get a little weird.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook


🔥 The Hot Ticket

Ohio State at Iowa, 9 p.m. | TV: ESPN2

  • Key Trend: There is no trend that supports this play tonight, which, as you'll read, is precisely why we must do it.
  • The Pick: Ohio State +7.5 (-110)

This is one of those times when the numbers are too difficult to ignore. I'll start with the primary principle: Ohio State is a fraud. I've been skeptical of the Buckeyes in nonconference, even if their losses to San Diego State, Duke and North Carolina were all acceptable. However, my numbers told me this team wasn't nearly as good as other popular power ratings claimed, and when the Buckeyes lost at home to a putrid Minnesota team, my feelings were confirmed.

The Buckeyes are 11-14 overall and 3-11 in the Big Ten. KenPom still considers them the 51st-best team in the country, but KenPom is wrong. This team doesn't defend and only has one consistently reliable option on offense in freshman Brice Sensabaugh.

But I'm betting the Buckeyes tonight despite this, because another principle is that the Big Ten loses its mind every year around this time. Maybe you saw Penn State's Jalen Pickett go off for 41 points against Illinois earlier this week or Northwestern knock off Indiana on Wednesday night, three days after it knocked off Purdue.

That principle has me thinking Ohio State covers tonight, as does Iowa's defensive efficiency ranking of 12th in the Big Ten, ahead of only Penn State and Minnesota. That lack of defense is the primary reason Ohio State scored 93 points in a 93-77 win over the Hawkeyes in Columbus last month. I doubt Ohio State will score 93 points again tonight, as Carver-Hawkeye Arena isn't the easiest place in the world to play, but I don't trust the Iowa defense nearly enough to cover 7.5 points here.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: It's not the heaviest lean, but the Projection Model agrees with our play.


💰 The Picks

Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks
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🏀 NBA

Bucks at Bulls, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT

The Pick: Bucks -7 (-110) -- Have you heard of the TNT Bulls? It's a well-known phenomenon in Chicago. On Feb. 28, 2013, the Chicago Bulls beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 93-82, in a home game broadcast on TNT. The Bulls haven't lost a home game on TNT since. Seriously, it's been 20 straight wins since then, and keep in mind that there have been some bad Bulls teams since then who were only getting nationally televised spots due to their market.

Tonight, the 20-game win streak will come to an end. The 2022-23 Bulls are great at blowing things of 20+. They've blown two 20+ point leads to the Indiana Pacers in the last three weeks, including Wednesday night. Now they're turning around for the second of a back-to-back against a Bucks team that's far superior and had yesterday off. Oh, and the Bulls are banged up. DeMar DeRozan didn't play last night, and there's a decent chance he's out again tonight. Even if he does play, the Bulls can't score enough points to keep up with Milwaukee.

🏀 College Basketball

UCF at Memphis, 8 p.m. | TV: ESPN+

The Pick: Under 150.5 (-110) -- To be blunt, I have no idea why this total is so high. This game could turn out to be a back-and-forth tennis match if Memphis forces UCF to play at its pace, but even if it does, the game likely ends as a blowout, and the over finishes out of reach.

What I think is more likely to happen is Memphis wins but cannot dictate the pace because UCF is too strong defensively -- it has a tremendous size advantage over the Tigers. UCF is a terrific offensive-rebounding team, and Memphis is awful on the defensive glass. That will lead to extra possessions for the Knights, who are never in a hurry to score. That happened in the first meeting (UCF won 107-104 in double OT) when the Knights grabbed 17 offensive rebounds. UCF only missed 42 shots, so that's an offensive rebound rate of 40.5%.

Of course, the other thing that happened in that game was UCF hit 16 threes. I don't see them being nearly as hot from deep tonight, which is another reason this under seems like a fantastic play.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The XFL season starts this weekend, and SportsLine's R.J. White has a play on the league's season opener between the Renegades and Vipers.