College basketball picks, odds, schedule: Predictions for North Carolina vs. Louisville and other big games Saturday
Picks for the Tar Heels-Cardinals and other key contests
Grab your pizza or a drink of your choice -- or both. Settle into that sweet spot on your couch. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you're plopped in front of your TV all weekend, beginning with Saturday's stupendous slate of college hoops beginning at noon and running late into Super Bowl Sunday.
On second thought, you might add some Red Bull and coffee to that list.
Saturday's menu is plenty appetizing from the jump. We have a rematch between Duke and St. John's, a year removed from the Johnnies stunning the Blue Devils in New York. Then there's a pivotal Big 12 showdown between No. 11 Kansas and No. 16 Texas Tech, where the winner might just claim the catbird seat of the regular season. And, of course, Kentucky faces Florida in The Swamp. That's just a sampling of some of the big games.
The rest we've saved to preview for you below picks style, as each of our experts have picked the big games against the spread and straight-up.
[Who wins Saturday's games? And which sides should you be backing? Visit SportsLine now to get everything you need for Saturday's big games.]
No. 12 Virginia Tech at No. 23 NC State (-2.5) --12 p.m. on ESPN3: Kevin Keatts acknowledged that his program is ahead of schedule in his second season following a late-minute overtime loss to Virginia at home earlier this week. But while the Wolfpack's competitiveness against the Wahoos come with plenty of positives, a real test of this season's team is going to be early Saturday afternoon against the Hokies. It's not only the ultimate sandwich game in the schedule -- four days after Virginia and three days before a trip to play at rival North Carolina -- but the opponent happens to be one of the five best teams in the ACC. The clash of styles will be fascinating and it should be one of the most competitive games we'll see all day, and I think NC State ultimately wins by speeding up Virginia Tech and getting it out of rhythm with its pressure defense. Chip Patterson's pick: NC State -2.5
No. 9 North Carolina at No. 15 Louisville (-1) -- 2 p.m. on ESPN: UNC has been one of the strongest teams against the spread this season, covering 60 percent of the time (12-5-3). Here, it has a revenge game. A major one. Louisville's 83-62 win in Chapel Hill on Jan. 12 was the worst home loss Roy Williams ever suffered as Tar Heels coach. Since then, UNC's won four straight by an average of 14.8 points. Louisville's not lost since the UNC victory either, but with the emergence of Nassir Little -- who should get more playing time due to Leaky Black and Sterling Manley being unavailable in this game -- the Heels appear to be getting stronger as the season pushes on. Luke Maye has been quiet this season, but keep an eye on him in this one. Heels win outright.. Matt Norlander's pick: North Carolina +1
No. 16 Texas Tech at No. 11 Kansas (-4) -- 4 p.m. on CBS, CBSSports.com and streaming for free on fuboTV: The Big 12 right now is a complete toss-up. There's not one team that has grabbed the league by the tail and taken it. Going into the weekend, there are two two-loss teams, three three-loss teams, and two four-loss teams, none of which can be completely ruled out of winning it this season. It's still Kansas's league to lose until it doesn't -- it has won at least a share of the conference for 14 consecutive seasons -- so Saturday I expect the Jayhawks to rebound from a two-game losing skid with an emphatic win and cover. Kyle Boone's pick: Kansas -4
Indiana at No. 6 Michigan State (-14.5) -- 6 p.m. on ESPN: It's hard to understand how a talented roster led by a great coach could spiral the way Indiana is currently spiraling. The Hoosiers started this season 12-2 with wins over Marquette and Louisville - both of which are ranked in the top 15 of the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. But now they're 12-9 thanks to a six-game losing streak featuring losses to Northwestern and Rutgers. Makes no sense. But, either way, the losing streak has skewed the numbers so much that Indiana is a whopping 14.5-point underdog this weekend at Michigan State. Considering Michigan beat IU by 23 last week at Assembly Hall, I'm tempted to lay the points. But I just can't bring myself to lay that many against a team that is still in the top 50 at KenPom and, I think, capable of turnings things around. Gary Parrish's pick: Indiana +14.5
No 1. Tennessee (-11) at Texas A&M -- 8 p.m. on ESPN: Texas A&M has only two wins in its last nine games, but they are pretty good ones -- at Alabama and home against Big 12 leader Kansas St. Five of those losses have come on the Aggies home floor and only one was by less than the 11.5-point spread Tennessee is favored by Saturday. The top-rated Volunteers struggled for a few games, despite winning, but picked things up last week with blowout wins over West Virginia and South Carolina. Look for another one of those here. Jerry Palm's pick: Tennessee -11
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