Final Saturday of the regular season college hoops preview - presented by Betfred Sportsbook
It's the final Saturday of the college hoops regular season, and boy oh boy, do we have a loaded slate.
Teams are fighting for everything - NCAA Tournament bids, seeding and conference titles and we've got you all covered.
Here's your preview - with the odds, provided, as always, by Betfred Sportsbook.
No. 2 Alabama at No. 24 Texas A&M (-1.5) – 12 p.m. ET, CBS: Alabama has been nothing short of dominant this season, despite all the off-court issues plaguing the program. Brandon Miller has been their best player this season as just a freshman. He averages 20 points, 2 assists, and 8 rebounds per game for the season, and Alabama is in line to get the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament if they keep winning. Texas A&M has been a good surprise this year, with how well they’ve played in SEC play with a 14-3 league record overall. The Aggies are led by Wade Taylor IV who leads the team in scoring at 16 points, four rebounds and three assists per game. This is Alabama’s last real test of the regular season. A&M is a very good team and because of that this game is going to be close. Expect the Aggies to win in a very close game in their regular season finale in a statement.
The Pick: Texas A&M (-1.5)
No. 12 Tennessee at Auburn (-2) – 2 p.m. ET, ESPN: This is a matchup of two inconsistent teams, and one that is plagued by injury, with the news that the Vols have lost key point guard Zakai Zeigler to a season-ending knee injury. Tennessee has one of the best defenses in the entire country, but they need to get more consistent on offense. Their most consistent player is Santiago Vescovi, who’s been great in the backcourt for the Volunteers. He averages 12 points and 2 steals per game for the season. Auburn has had a bumpy season and is very close to being on the bubble. Johni Broome leads the way for the Tigers in the frontcourt. He averages 14 points, eight rebounds and just under three blocks per game for the Tigers. Their offense could be an x-factor here. Auburn is the play here in a close game because of the injury to Zakai Ziegler for Tennessee and the fact it helps that Auburn’s the home team too.
The Pick: Auburn (-2)
No. 23 Kentucky at Arkansas (-3) – 2 p.m. ET, CBS: This game is between two of the most talented teams in the country, but also two of the most inconsistent teams in the country. Kentucky is also coming off a last-second loss to Vanderbilt at home. Oscar Tshbiewe is still a dominant force down low and averages 17 points per game, 2 assists, and 13 rebounds per game for the season, but the key is whether Cason Wallace - who left Wednesday's loss to Vanderbilt - will be available. There are mixed reports on his availability, but if he isn't ready to go it's hard to imagine the Wildcats going into Bud Walton Arena without him and winning. Arkansas meanwhile, has a ton of talent, and finally might be the healthiest they’ve been since early in the season. Ricky Council IV leads the way for the Razorbacks at 17 points per game for the season. This game could honestly be a coin flip because of what we’ve seen from each team. Expect Arkansas to win a close one. My lean is Kentucky plus the points, but it's hard to know until we see whether Wallace is playing or not.
The Lean: Kentucky (+3)
No. 3 Kansas at No. 9 Texas (-3) – 4 p.m. ET, ESPN: Kansas might be the most impressive team this year, clinching an outright Big 12 title, a season after winning a national championship and losing six of its top eight scorers. It's insane. Texas has bounced back after Chris Beard was fired mid-season, but after losing the opportunity to play for a Big 12 title on Saturday, they now have to get right before the Big Dance. The Longhorns have currently lost four of their last seven overall. The key for the Longhorns will be slowing down Jalen Wilson, the Jayhawks National Player of the Year Candidate, who averages 20 points, three assists, and eight rebounds per game for the season. On offense, Texas is led by Marcus Carr in the backcourt. He leads the team in scoring, assists, and steals per game. He averages 17 points, four assists, three rebounds, and two steals per game for the season. Texas is one of the best teams in a loaded Big 12 because of the guard play. This is going to be a very close game because of how evenly matched each team is, especially on the perimeter. Texas should win a close game, with the home crowd being the difference.
The Pick: Texas (-3)
No. 25 Pittsburgh at No. 16 Miami (-7.5) – 6 p.m. ET, ACCN: There's an ACC matchup with two teams tied for first place and fighting for the No. 1 seed at the ACC Tournament - but it isn't Duke-Carolina. Instead, it's Miami-Pitt, who are tied with Virginia atop the ACC standings entering the final day of the season. Who'd have thunk it? Pittsburgh has been a great surprise this year, and a big factor in that is the emergence of Blake Hinton. He averages 16 points and six rebounds per game for this surprising Panthers squad, and overall, Pitt also plays a very fun style of basketball this year, where as a team they shoot close to 36 percent from three. Miami has been the most consistent team in the ACC, and that’s been in large part because of their guard play. Isaiah Wong is the standout in the backcourt and averages 16 points, 3 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal per game for the season. Miami might clinch the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament here too. Miami should be able to pull away from Pitt and win. Pitt will hang around early, but Miami wins and covers after pulling away in the second half.
The Pick: Miami (-7.5)
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Duke at North Carolina (-3.5) – 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: This is the best rivalry in college basketball and maybe in all of college sports, but both teams have not lived up to expectations at all this season. North Carolina is on the bubble, while Duke is sitting at a lower-than-normal seed line. Caleb Love is the biggest star on this Tar Heel team. He averages 17 points, 3 assists, and 4 rebounds per game for the season. He’s been the main star for a very good team offensively, and was one of four players who scored in double-figures at Florida State in their last game on Monday. Duke has a ton of former five-star recruits on their roster, with each one having varying forms of success this year. The most successful freshman for them is Kyle Filipowski. He averages 15 points and nine rebounds per game for the season and has been a beast down low. This should be a great game as it always is. Duke won a close game in their first matchup and in this game the Tar Heels should get revenge and win a close game against Duke at home. They should cover too and get one step closer to being in the Tournament.
The Pick: Duke (-3.5)
No. 8 Arizona at No. 4 UCLA (-5) – 10 p.m. ET, ESPN: This is round 2 of the game of the year in the Pac-12. Arizona won a close game against the Bruins in Tucson earlier this season, so this rematch is huge. Arizona is one of the best offensive teams in the country and a big factor is how well Azuolas Tubelis has played this year. He averages 20 points, nine rebounds and two assists per game for the season. He’s also in the running for the Pac-12 Player of the Year. UCLA has been led by their defense this season. They are also very experienced and have a Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate in Jaime Jacquez Jr. He averages 17 points and eight rebounds on the year. He’s also been a very good defender. This game is going to be a grudge match and a slugfest. UCLA is playing better right now, but Arizona is going to keep this game close. UCLA wins, but Arizona covers.
The Pick: Arizona (+5)
Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus
For all of Saturday's college hoops lines check out the Betfred Sportsbook
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