College basketball picks, schedule: Predictions, odds for Gonzaga vs. BYU and other key Top 25 games
Our experts pick the winners of the No. 2 Zags vs. the No. 23 Cougars and the other big games on a loaded Saturday
Could this be the biggest weekend yet of college basketball for the 2019-20 season? Well, considering we had No. 1 Baylor hosting No. 3 Kansas to start the day and will end with No. 2 Gonzaga on the road at No. 23 BYU and we certainly have a good case. College hoops does not get top-three matchups in the regular season on a regular basis, so it's a special game tipping in Waco at noon ET on Saturday.
Below, you'll find our experts' leans for that game in addition to four other intriguing tilts going down on a good weekend of hoops that will bring more separation to seed lines and a bit more clarity on bubble teams.
Here's what to look for on Saturday.
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All times ET
10 p.m. (ESPN)
This game won't get the attention that Kansas-Baylor receives -- but it's clearly the second-best game on the schedule. Gonzaga is on a 19-game winning streak. BYU is on a seven-game winning streak. And though the Cougars' overall record isn't as impressive as the Zags' 27-1 mark, it should be noted that BYU is actually 14-2 with its best player, Yoeli Childs, in the lineup. That's rock-solid. And Childs will be in the lineup Saturday. So this should be a big test for Gonzaga. But I'm still going to trust Mark Few's team to escape the Marriott Center with a win, one way or another. Pick: Gonzaga -4 (Gary Parrish)
No. 3 Kansas at No. 1 Baylor (-1.5)
The top two teams, according to KenPom. How great is this? From a picks perspective, because we do not know if shooting guard MaCio Teague is going to play for Baylor (wrist sprain; he's listed as a game-time decision), it puts the outcome in more doubt. Baylor already has a throw-down win at Kansas this season, but it's never beat KU twice in the same season. Kansas has the better 1-2 combo with Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike, and it has the better defense. Is it the better team? A win would bring legitimacy to that claim, which is what the metrics have it as. Expect something low-scoring, along the lines of the winner getting to 65 or 66 points. Baylor won 67-55 at Kansas back on Jan. 11, but the Jayhawks eke out a revenge win to help their No. 1-seed case. Pick: Kansas +1.5 (Matt Norlander)
Auburn had a penchant for playing close games with Isaac Okoro in the lineup -- four of their last five victories before his hamstring injury came in overtime -- and the Tigers have lost the two games since he's been out. With a defensively sound Tennessee team coming in and Okoro's status still uncertain, the Vols have a great shot at covering on The Plains. Pick: Tennessee +6.5 (David Cobb)
Texas at Kansas State (-4)
A breakout game for freshman big man Will Baker in Wednesday night's win against TCU comes right as Shaka Smart and the Longhorns are in backs-against-the-wall mode here in the final third of the conference schedule. Texas has dealt with injuries throughout the season, most recently losing starting forward Jericho Sims for an indefinite amount of time with a back issue, and while NCAA Tournament chances are slim this is a team that Jerry Palm had listed as one of the first four out less than two weeks ago. The NCAA Tournament profile needs quality wins more than quantity, but I think the urgency of this point in the season -- and this point in Smart's tenure as Texas' coach -- powers a strong performance that leads to a win in the Octagon of Doom. Pick: Texas +4 (Chip Patterson)
UCLA has been coming on strong having won eight of their last ten. The two losses were blowouts on the road against teams in the bracket. They also won a game at Arizona, which is a bracket team. The one that interests me though is the win over Colorado. The Buffs aren't letting that happen again. Pick: UCLA +10.5 (Jerry Palm)
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