Mike Tierney

Top Dog

A veteran sportswriter whose work appears periodically in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, Mike Tierney has covered the NFL for decades and reported from seven Super Bowls. Mike does not consider himself a pet lover. But he likes 'dogs, preferring to evaluate each game from the underdog's point of view. One of his specialties is picking NFL totals. In the past two seasons, Mike is 52-30 (63.4 percent) on NFL Over/Unders. For Mike Tierney media inquiries, contact SportsLine@CBSInteractive.com.

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UNDER 145.5UNDER 145.5

Michigan 62 vs Villanova 79
4/03
MICH 62 vs NOVA 79
4/03
WIN
Sun 4/1

Whew, Villanova has some kind of offense. In four of their five NCAA Tournament outings, the Wildcats have amassed 87, 81, 90 and 95 points. Their output in the other game offers hope -- and evidence -- of an Under in the championship. The Wildcats managed a measly -- for them -- 71 points against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders' laudable defensive profile is similar to Michigan's. The Wolverines are yielding 58 points per game in the tourney. The only foe to exceed 63 was Texas A&M, which was in desperation mode during the entire second half. This is not to suggest Michigan can keep 'Nova in the 60s; low 70s is likely the best to which it can aspire. I like the Wolverines' chances to do so. Their defense is in-your-face and adjustments against Loyola-Chicago tamed the Ramblers on Saturday after the underdogs dizzied Michigan by spreading the floor and relying on their post player. So, let's assume Villanova lands in the low 70s. Michigan would essentially need to match the favorite's point total for the Over to score. And as much as I admire the Wolverines, it's a stretch to envision a straight-up win against the hottest team in the nation. Under it is.

2-1 IN LAST 3 VILLANOVA O/U PICKS | +95

North Texas -4NTEXAS -4

San Fran. 77 @ North Texas 88
3/30
SANFRAN 77 @ NTEXAS 88
3/30
WIN
Fri 3/30

In the CBI's best-of-three finals, the home team is 15-1 straight-up. Every previous year but one, the eventual champion lost the opener on the road, then took the last two on its home court. Fans flock to the last game to provide crowd support and, with North Texas drawing well above its average Wednesday, a strong turnout is anticipated. The Mean Green is on a 4-1 ATS streak, quite the opposite of the Dons' 2-8 slide. Some stats from Game Two were telling -- a 13-rebound advantage for the home side with just three turnovers. Anything close to a repeat, and the crowd will go home happy.

2-1 IN LAST 3 NORTH TEXAS ATS PICKS | +95

Ill.-Chicago +9.5ILLCHI +9.5

Ill.-Chicago 71 @ N. Colo. 76
3/30
ILLCHI 71 @ NCOLO 76
3/30
WIN
Fri 3/30

I was all set to select Northern Colorado in light of UIC?s challenging itinerary. The Flames played in Lynchburg, Va., Wednesday night, then bused to Washington D.C. and flew to Denver. A 50-plus mile bus trip followed. But the Flames? 10-1 ATS hotness on the road cannot be ignored. Only two players logged more than 30 minutes Wednesday (33 and 36), so the team should not be leg-weary. This is a team that adjusts during periods of travel and should keep the margin in single digits.

3-1 IN LAST 4 ILL.-CHICAGO ATS PICKS | +192

Utah +4.5UTAH +4.5

Penn St. 82 vs Utah 66
3/29
PSU 82 vs UTAH 66
3/29
LOSS
Thu 3/29

Penn State?s devastation of Mississippi State in the NIT semifinals has driven this line up from three. Hold on now. Utah is for real, and a tight game looms. The Utes? depth could be shored up with the return of C Jayce Johnson (ankle), who missed the semifinals. That would provide a checkmark on Utah?s side for depth, Penn State having lost key players late in the season. An upperclass-heavy lineup assures Utah of focus and the right balance or urgency and calm.

9-1-1 IN LAST 11 UTAH ATS PICKS | +795

UNDER 155UNDER 155

Villanova 95 vs Kansas 79
4/01
NOVA 95 vs KANSAS 79
4/01
LOSS
Thu 3/29

For these offensive powerhouses, this total certainly is within reach. Villanova boasts the nation?s most efficient offense, with Kansas at No. 5, according to the Pomeroy Ratings. However, neither teams plays as fast as their images suggest. Pomeroy computes adjusted tempo, which reflects possessions per game. Kansas ranks 150th, Villanova even lower at 160. That is a middle-of-the-pack pace. This pair does not rush the ball downcourt and chuck it up after one or two passes. Ball movement is a hallmark for both. Even as plenty of shootouts come to mind with past Final Four semifinal games, rarely is the number for this one hit. The last was in 2009, when Michigan State and Connecticut combined for 155 points. Not since 2005 was it exceeded by the Spartans and North Carolina ? barely, with 156. For such a lofty total, both teams will need to be on fire. Could happen, but more than likely one will be at least slightly off its game. That scenario would reward the Under players.

2-1 IN LAST 3 VILLANOVA O/U PICKS | +95

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