Gambling preview + picks for a loaded Saturday in college hoops (presented by Betfred Sportsbook)
It's another loaded Saturday slate of college hoops, as positioning for both conference and NCAA Tournament seeding is heating up.
Here's your preview - with the odds, provided, as always, by Betfred Sportsbook.
No. 19 Creighton (-2.5) at Villanova – 12 p.m. ET, FOX: Creighton went through an early season slump, only to bounce back and put themselves back into the Big East title chase. Unfortunately for the Jays, they have now lost two of three, and are caught in a three-way tie for second place in the league. In terms of the game itself, the question is whether Villanova will have an answer for center Ryan Kalkbrenner, who leads the Bluejays in scoring at 15 points per game for the season and he also leads them in blocks too. Villanova’s been a roller coaster this season, but is back at .500 with four wins in their last five games since the return of veteran Justin Moore from injury. Caleb Daniels leads the team in scoring at 16 points per game and in assists too. This game has the makings of a rock fight with both teams being very good defensively. Look for Creighton to win, but Villanova should cover in a game that should be closer than people expect.
Lean: Villanova (+2.5)
Arkansas at No. 2 Alabama (-8.5) – 2 p.m. ET, ESPN2: Alabama is both one of the most talented teams in the country, and also one embroiled in controversy, with the ongoing Brandon Miller ordeal. On the court, Miller leads the team in scoring at 19.5 points per game for the season, and is coming off an incredible 41-point performance on the court against south Carolina on Wednesday. Arkansas has dealt with a big injury bug this year, with Trevon Brazile being out for the remainder of the season and Nick Smith being out awhile, but Smith is now back, and just had the best performance of his career - dropping 26 on Tuesday against Georgia. This should be a very high-scoring game because of how good each of these teams are on offense. Alabama should win, but in a close game, with Arkansas covering.
The Pick: Arkansas (+8.5)
No. 8 Texas at No. 9 Baylor (-4) – 2 p.m. ET, ESPN: Texas enters this game tied with Kansas atop the Big 12 standings, while Baylor is tied for third - meaning this game will have major seeding implications for next week's Big 12 Tournament. The Bears has been one of the best offensive teams in country this year and they’re led by Keyonte George as a freshman guard, who leads the team in scoring at 17 points per game. Texas has been very good this year and has been led out of a cloud of controversy early this season to be one of the top-ranked teams in the country. Marcus Carr leads the team in points at 17 points per game. He also leads the team in assists and steals per game for the season. This game has the makings of a very high-scoring game with how good the guards are with both teams. Expect Baylor to win and probably pull away and cover here too.
The Pick: Baylor (-4)
Arizona State at No. 7 Arizona (-12) – 2 p.m. ET, CBS: Arizona State visits Arizona in another addition of the Duel in the Desert. Arizona comes into this game having to still prove to the committee a few things, and it has a big stage against a rival. Azuolas Tubelis leads the Wildcats and is a candidate for being the Player of the Year. He leads the Wildcats in scoring at 20 points per game, and then also in rebounds and steals. Arizona State needs a big win to get back into the NCAA Tournament picture and this is a great way to do that. Desmond Cambridge Jr. leads the Sun Devils in scoring at 14 points per game for the season. He also leads them in steals per game too. This matchup has a lot of hate in it with the rivalry and should be a good game early but expect Arizona to cover and win this game easily.
The Pick: Arizona (-12)
JAMION CHRISTIAN: EVERY CONTENDER'S FATAL FLAW HEADING INTO MARCH
Auburn at Kentucky (-5) – 4 p.m. ET, CBS: Auburn visits Kentucky in a game that features two teams that should be safely in the NCAA Tournament but could use more wins to feel even safer. Kentucky has the former National Player of the Year still in Oscar Tshiebwe, who leads the team in scoring at 16 points per game. He also leads the team in rebounds and blocks per game for the season. Auburn has also disappointed this year and is currently sitting as a 10 seed in Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology. So they could absolutely use a big road win here. Johni Broome has been great this year and leads the Tigers in scoring at 14.1 points per game for the season. He also leads the team in rebounds and blocks per game for the season. Expect a close game here, but Kentucky should cover and win outright in a game they need.
The Pick: Kentucky (-5)
No. 6 Virginia at North Carolina (-3) – 6 p.m. ET, ESPN: This is a big game for the ACC. To this point, North Carolina has zero - yes, zero - Quad 1 wins, and if they want an at-large bid this is almost a must-win for them. Armando Bacot remains Carolina's most important player, leading them with 17 points per game, while also leading them in rebounding and blocked shots as well. Virginia has been their usual dominant selves on defense but need to find more offense, after scoring just 48 points in a loss at Boston College earlier this week. Armaan Franklin has been good on offense and leads the team in scoring at 12 points per game for the season. This is going to be an ugly game because of the way Virginia plays defense, and the Tar Heels could struggle. However, I do think the Tar Heels win a very close game and cover too. This would catapult them to being right back in the mix for an NCAA Tournament bid.
The Pick: North Carolina (-3)
No. 17 Indiana Hoosiers at No. 5 Purdue – 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX: This is a big rivalry matchup that was a thriller the last time they played in Bloomington. Indiana won it at home, but now heads to Purdue to try and sweep the series. The Hoosiers are led by Trayce Jackson-Davis who’s an All-American candidate, averaging a staggering 20.5 points per game, 11 rebounds, four assists and almost four blocks per game. Purdue has been a huge surprise this season and it’s been mainly because of Zach Edey. The 7’4” monster down low has been unstoppable for teams facing the Boilermakers. The difference in this matchup is that Purdue is at home in this game. Edey should dominate, and Purdue should win a close game. Indiana could still cover, but Purdue wins.
Lean Indiana +6.5
No. 15 Saint Mary’s at No. 12 Gonzaga (-5.5) – 10 p.m. ET, ESPN: Incredibly, this is actually the regular season finale for both teams, with the WCC Tournament starting next weekend. And it's an especially matchup because Saint Mary's leads the conference going into the final game of the regular season. Gonzaga hasn’t met their usual expectations this year, but they’ve still been very good. Drew Timme is still in Spokane and is a candidate for National Player of the Year, averaging 21 points per game. Saint Mary’s has been a big surprise and is one of the better teams on the West Coast this year. Aidan Mahaney has been the best player for the Gaels this year and leads the team in scoring at 15 points per game. Expect this to be a close game for a bit, but for Gonzaga to pull away and win. The Bulldogs should also cover at home too. This also might be the best game of the weekend.
The Pick: Gonzaga (-5.5)
Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus
For all of Tuesday's college hoops lines check out the Betfred Sportsbook
21+ OH Residents. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler