Make it or break it time in College Basketball has come. We have a quick prediction of a couple of Saturday’s games along with a few of my personal choices for picks against the spread. Let’s break down the day!
Texas Longhorns @ Oklahoma Sooners -6.5
Two struggling Big12 teams meet in the basketball version of the Red River Rivalry. Freshman phenoms Mo Bamba and Trae Young will headline a matchup of two hungry teams. The first mathcup between the two ended in a Longhorns victory 79-75.
Offensively, the game matches up Oklahoma’s No. 1 nationally ranked offense (88.36 points per game) against a Texas Longhorns defense that sits as the No. 56 at 67.96 PPG. The Oklahoma Sooners have been averaging 47.74% from the field, more than the Longhorns have managed so far this season (43.85% on average).
Texas is 6-2 ATS in there last 8 games following a loss while Oklahoma 0-6 in their last 6 games ATS. Oklahoma has become to reliant on Trae Young, while Texas offense has become more spread out. The length and game plan put together by Shaka Smart will be a problem for the Sooners. Both teams need this win, but Texas seems like a tough matchup for Oklahoma.
Villanova Wildcats vs. Xavier Musketeers +1
Villanova looked unbeatable as recently as two weeks ago, but the Wildcats are suddenly reeling after losing two of three in advance of their toughest test of the season. Xavier hasn’t lost since falling at Villanova more than a month ago, ripping off nine straight wins since then. The Musketeers are undefeated at home this season, with wins over Cincinnati and Baylor, as well as every meaningful team in the Big East other than Villanova.
Villanova dominated the first matchup behind a strong performance from Phil Booth. Villanova’s shooting is going to be the key to the game. If Nova comes out hitting their shots they should be able to overcome the rowdy home court advantage of the Musketeers.
Villanova and Xavier are two national title contenders who meet on Saturday in a game that could go either way. If luck is what decides this one, then the Wildcats are hoping the Musketeers are due for a reversal of fortunes.
James Caldwell: Villanova -1
West Virginia Mountaineers vs Kansas Jayhawks -3.5
Since rallying to deal West Virginia a crushing blow in the league title chase, Kansas has gone just 5-3. Like the Mountaineers, the Jayhawks have an ugly loss to Oklahoma State on the ledger, and they also dropped contests to Baylor and Oklahoma since the 71-66 win in Morgantown on Jan. 15. Still, they are just one game out of the league lead, and have this game plus a road trip to Big 12-leader Texas Tech in which to make up ground.
West Virginia has won 3 of their last 4, they enter this game with a chance to bury their rivals hopes of another Big12 championship. If the Mountaineers allow Mykhailiuk, Vick and Newman unfettered looks from three, they are going to lose unless KU has a shooting meltdown of epic proportions. That did happen in the Baylor loss, where the Jayhawks went 6-31 from distance, but that is an anomaly. They have been under the 33% mark just one other time in Big 12 play this year (a home loss to Texas Tech) but outside that they range from good to sizzling. West Virginia, which has problems at times rotating to cover one or two shooters, simply can’t leave those players unguarded, even if it means trying to defend head up against Graham and not giving help on penetration.
West Virginia will need a big performance from Javon Carter and Essa Ahmed on the offensive end to get their first ever win at Allen Fieldhouse. This feels like a classic Kansas show of power, but this isn’t your usual Kansas team. Kansas most likely wins but its going to be very close.
James Caldwell: West Virginia +3.5
James other picks of the day-
Missouri +1 over LSU
Notre Dame +1 over Boston College