We are entering the stretch run of the 2021-22 college basketball regular season, and the last Saturday of February is loaded with intriguing games before the madness of March officially arrives. There are NCAA Tournament bubble battles, conference titles in the balance and seeding for the Big Dance at stake during a loaded day of games that will last well into the night.
The headliner of the late-night wave pits No. 1 Gonzaga against No. 23 St. Mary's as the Zags look to complete their third undefeated WCC campaign in the last four seasons and maintain their status as the projected No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Another one of CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm's projected No. 1 seeds will also be in action against a ranked foe in the evening as No. 5 Kansas travels to play No. 10 Baylor.
The Bears lost the first meeting 83-59 on Feb. 5 and will be out for revenge against the Jayhawks. But a win for KU would bring it to the doorstep of a Big 12 title. Among the day's other highlights is a tripleheader on CBS that tips off with an in-state showdown between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma at noon, followed by an SEC battle between No. 6 Kentucky and No. 18 Arkansas and a Pac-12 clash between No. 12 UCLA and Oregon State.
Our experts have picks and predictions for the day's biggest games here.
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook | All times Eastern
No. 7 Duke at Syracuse
6 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) -- Opponents let it fly against Syracuse's zone, taking an average of 31.1 attempts from 3-point range per game. Duke's 36.8% 3-point percentage makes it well-equipped to feast from the outside. In the first meeting, the Blue Devils hit 14 of 37 attempts from deep en route to a 79-59 win. It would be no surprise to see a similar barrage this time. Don't be surprised if freshman phenom Paolo Banchero also bounces back for Duke after arguably his worst game yet at Virginia on Wednesday night. Prediction: Duke 76, Syracuse 64
No. 5 Kansas at No. 10 Baylor
8 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) -- Baylor games these days start with a roll call to figure out who is healthy enough to play. When the Bears lost 83-59 at Kansas on Feb. 5, they were without top 3-point shooter LJ Cryer. In the rematch, they will play without key big man Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, who is out for the season because of a knee injury suffered Feb. 12. Cryer's status remains uncertain as well. There are only two players who have appeared in every game this season for Baylor. KU has navigated most of the Big 12 season without starting point guard Remy Martin, but the Jayhawks have more depth and should be able to complete the sweep. Prediction: Kansas 77, Baylor 70
No. 1 Gonzaga at No. 23 St. Mary's
10 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) -- Is this the moment when the West Coast Conference shows its improvement and Gonzaga picks up a loss that spoils its unbeaten run through league play? If anyone can beat the Zags, it's a Saint Mary's team with home court advantage. The Gaels are unbeaten at home this season and recently added quality foes San Francisco and BYU to the list of teams they have beaten at University Credit Union Pavilion. But Gonzaga won the first meeting by 16 and is too good defensively this season to be in true danger here. Prediction: Gonzaga 74, St. Mary's 63
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Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
12 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) -- With OU's leading scorer Elijah Harkless out, offense has been hard to find for the Sooners in the last couple games. Oklahoma State held Oklahoma to just 55 points in the first meeting when Harkless was playing, so it's reasonable to expect the Cowboys to stifle OU once again. Look for OSU to win a low-scoring affair and secure its fourth straight win over its in-state rival. Prediction: Oklahoma State 66, Oklahoma 60
No. 6 Kentucky at No. 18 Arkansas
2 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) -- Kentucky showed in wins over Alabama and LSU over the past week that it is getting better at improvising when forced to play without point guards TyTy Washington and/or Sahvir Wheeler. But the possibility of one or both of those players being out as the Wildcats enter a rowdy environment at Arkansas' Bud Walton Arena portends a bleak outlook for UK. Look for the Razorbacks to use their up-tempo style in tandem with a decided home-court advantage to secure another big win. Prediction: Arkansas 75, Kentucky 65
No. 12 UCLA at Oregon State
4 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) -- If you are waiting for Oregon State to turn things around and recapture the magic of last season's magical NCAA Tournament run, you might be waiting for a while. The Beavers are lagging far behind in the talent department and have shown little to suggest they've got an upset of this caliber in the tank. UCLA's bout with injuries this month makes it a little bit of a wild card. But the Bruins are deep enough to handle business here regardless of who may be unavailable. Prediction: UCLA 80, Oregon State 62