College basketball picks, schedule: Predictions, odds for Kentucky vs. Texas Tech and other key Top 25 games
The last weekend of nonconference play is upon us as the Road to the Final Four heats up
Could this be a calmer weekend in college basketball? It's possible, but don't count on it. There are nine ranked teams in road situations, so expect a decent amount of din Saturday and Sunday.
If you've been following along all season, you know that this spot is reserved for our college hoops analysts to make their picks and explain why they're taking which teams. Below, the latest Eye on College Basketball Podcast, which features a picks segment near the end. Of note: I'm 31-23-1 against the spread this season on the podcast picks, so fade me or follow me as you see fit.
This is the final weekend of nonconference regular season play in college basketball, as the SEC-Big 12 Challenge will have 10 games spread out over Saturday. We've picked the five biggest games below.
All times Eastern
No. 9 Villanova (-3) at Providence
Providence has been inconsistent as a home dog in the past three seasons, but how about Villanova? Just 2-7 as a road favorite since 2018. The most critical factor in this game will be Providence's ability, or inability, to turn Villanova over. The Wildcats are 131st in the country at turning the ball over via steal, whereas PC ranks No. 9 nationally in steal percentage. Nova will be the public play, and I think it's best to fade the public here. Friars are skittish but dangerous. Pick: Providence +3 (Matt Norlander)
4 p.m. (ESPN)
Unless you've been in hibernation, you may have noticed that the Kansas basketball program had itself a week. And after an on-court melee at home Tuesday, the Jayhawks will be without Silvio De Sousa and David McCormack in this one as they serve suspensions. Their frontcourt depth is depleted. I do think KU wins this game -- it has too much firepower from top to bottom on its roster -- but I'll take Tennessee to cover the 14 points after what KU just went through this week. Quietly, the Vols have won four of their last five heading into this game with a defense that rates second in the SEC and top-20 nationally in efficiency. Pick: Tennessee +14.5 (Kyle Boone)
No. 15 Kentucky at No. 18 Texas Tech (-5)
6 p.m. (ESPN)
Since losing consecutive games to Utah and Ohio State, Kentucky has settled in and started stringing wins. The Wildcats are 6-1 in their past seven games with road victories at Georgia and Arkansas — which means they've seen, and succeeded in, in hostile environments already. Does that mean they'll win at Texas Tech on Saturday? Not necessarily. But these are, I think, comparable teams. So I'll just take the points and trust that things will be close late. Pick: Kentucky +5 (Gary Parrish)
8 p.m. (ESPN)
Much was expected of Florida this season with the addition of transfer forward Kerry Blackshear from Virginia Tech, but the Gators have not lived up to those expectations. They have been good at home, but their best win came over Auburn and their only loss came to Florida State by 12. Baylor is better than either of those teams and has already won at Texas Tech and Kansas. Bears keep on rolling. Pick: Baylor +1.5 (Jerry Palm)
Notre Dame at No. 5 Florida State (-9)
8 p.m. (ACC Network)
There are going to be moments where Notre Dame can be competitive in this game. John Mooney can feast around the basket if he's not diligently defended, and senior guard T.J. Gibbs is an effective scorer and strong leader of the offense. But over 40 minutes there are going to be too many spurts where Florida State can extend or in some cases, double a small lead with a couple quick turnovers and easy baskets on the other end. The Seminoles are the deeper team, and while Mooney is impressive Devin Vassell has emerged as one of the top players in the ACC if not the country. Florida State is 58-3 in its past 61 home games, a stretch that dates back to February 2015, and when Leonard Hamilton has that kind of a run going it's best not to step in the way. Pick: FSU -9
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