NCAA Basketball Picks of Day: Top Three Selections For Saturday

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, January 9, 2016 1:53 AM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 1:53 AM UTC

Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim will return from a nine-game suspension on Saturday night when his unranked Orange look for a big upset of visiting North Carolina. Here are my top picks for Saturday with BetOnline NCAA basketball odds.

No. 6 North Carolina vs. Syracuse (+6)
For all the things Syracuse allegedly did under Boeheim's watch, he's lucky he was only suspended for nine games. The Orange also will not be playing postseason basketball this season, but they don't look good enough to make the NCAA Tournament anyway. During Boeheim's suspension, he wasn't allowed any contact with his team or to talk with assistant Mike Hopkins, his eventual successor. The Orange were only 4-5 under Hopkins, but Boeheim has defended his guy, saying there's no way to know things would have been any better under Boeheim. He admitted he might have changed a few things. Syracuse (10-6, 0-3) enters on a three game losing streak. Its first two ACC losses, at Pitt and at Miami, were by double digits. SU was beaten at home by a mediocre Clemson team 74-73 in overtime on Tuesday. Trevor Cooney missed a 3-pointer from the corner late that would have given the Orange the lead. It's Syracuse's first 0-3 league start since 1996-97 in the Big East. North Carolina (14-2, 3-0) has won seven straight games. And you won't see a better individual performance this season than Brice Johnson's 39 points and 23 rebounds in a 106-90 victory at Florida State on Monday. Johnson joined Billy Cunningham as the only UNC players with at least 39 points and 23 boards in a game. Carolina also could get back big man Kennedy Meeks from injury for this one. He has missed seven straight with a knee bruise but did return to practice Wednesday. Meeks is questionable. He is averaging 12.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. The Tar Heels are aiming for their first 4-0 ACC start under Roy Williams.

NCAA Basketball Picks: North Carolina at -6 NCAA Basketball odds. The Heels are 7-3 ATS in past 10 road games vs. teams with a winning home record. Syracuse is 2-5 ATS in its past seven after a loss.

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Kansas State vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (-15.5)
How much could Oklahoma (12-1, 1-1) and superstar Buddy Hield, the betting favorite for national player of the year, have left in the tank for this Big 12 game? The Sooners dropped a 109-106 triple-overtime instant classic at No. 1 Kansas on Monday night, the 40th all-time matchup between the top two teams in the AP poll. It was only the fifth to go into overtime, and both schools rallied from double-digit deficits. Hield was amazing with a career-high 46 points (along with eight rebounds and seven assists) in a whopping 54 minutes. He looked tired at the end with two big turnovers and a missed 3-pointer at the buzzer. That points total tied for the second-most ever by a Kansas opponent. Hield's season average is now up to 26.3 points per  game. Two other Sooners starters played at least 50 minutes as well. Can Kansas State (10-4, 0-2) take advantage of those heavy legs? The Wildcats could just as easily be 2-0 in conference play, losing in double overtime to West Virginia and then by three at Texas on Tuesday. KSU has just four true road wins the past two seasons. The last time KSU played the nation's No. 1 team it upset Kansas 84-68 on Feb. 14, 2011 in Manhattan. K-State hasn't beaten a team ranked No. 1 other than Kansas since Missouri in 1990. The Wildcats did sweep OU last year.

NCAA Basketball Picks: Has to be a letdown for OU so K-State covers. KSU is 8-2-1 ATS in its past 11 overall. OU is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 vs. the Big 12. The Wildcats have covered five of the past six meetings.

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LSU vs. Florida (-5.5)
While I expect a letdown for Oklahoma, I also see the same thing happening to LSU (9-5, 2-0) on Saturday in Gainesville in SEC action. I previewed LSU's home game vs. No. 9 Kentucky in my Tuesday NCAA Basketball picks here at SBR and recommended the Tigers at +5. They won 85-67 despite just a so-so game -- for him at least --  from superstar freshman Ben Simmons, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds. He did make all five field-goal attempts. It was LSU's largest margin of victory over Kentucky since 1992 and the win could be very big for LSU's at-large bid chances for the NCAA Tournament. It was the Tigers' first win over a Top 10 team since 2007. Florida (9-5, 1-1) didn't play well at all Tuesday in an 83-69 loss at Tennessee. The Vols led 53-31 at halftime and by as much as 30. At one point early in the second half, Tennessee had outscored UF in points off turnovers 20-0. LSU swept Florida last year but both teams are much different now.

NCAA Basketball Picks: Tigers will be a bit flat and have been shaky away from home (1-4 ATS in past five road games). UF won't play badly two games in row. Go Gators, who are 5-1 ATS in their past six after a loss. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. 

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