NCAA Basketball Picks For Saturday: Early-Starting Selections

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, January 23, 2016 12:05 PM GMT

With such a busy day of college basketball on tap Saturday, I will break down my daily NCAA Basketball picks into early games and those that start in the evening (after 5 p.m. ET).

No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Baylor
There will be a new No. 1 team in the polls on Monday because top-ranked Oklahoma (15-2, 4-2 Big 12), which ascended Monday to No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time since 1990, was upset 82-77 at No. 19 Iowa State on Monday night. Actually, upset is the wrong word because the Cyclones were slight favorites. Buddy Hield scored 27 points and Isaiah Cousins had a career-high 26 for the Sooners. They shot an excellent 53.1 percent from long range and the 17 made 3-pointers were a season high for OU. Hield hit seven of those. But Oklahoma was just 4-for-7 from the free-throw line compared to Iowa State's 14-for-17. It marked just the fourth time this season a Sooner opponent eclipsed the 80-point mark. Baylor (15-3, 5-1) beat visiting Kansas State 79-72 in double overtime Wednesday for its fifth straight victory and school-record-tying 15th in a row at the Ferrell Center. After going scoreless in regulation, sophomore guard Al Freeman scored 11 points in the two overtimes for BU. The Bears enter the weekend in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 for the first time since 1998. Baylor and Oklahoma split last year, each winning by double digits at home. Baylor sets school record with 16th straight home win. OU is 2-12 ATS in its past 14 vs. the Big 12. Baylor is 5-0 against the NCAA basketball odds in its past five at home vs. teams with a winning road record.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Baylor +2
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Texas vs. No. 3 Kansas
I previewed Kansas' game at Oklahoma State in this space on Tuesday and recommended taking the Cowboys at +9.5 because the Jayhawks have struggled in Stillwater in recent years. Can't say I saw the outright upset coming, but the Pokes rolled to a surprising 86-67 victory. The KU players seemed to lack any intensity and Coach Bill Self accepted the blame, telling the local media: “I've got to be able to motivate the kids better. It's embarrassing, the manner in which we let them control the game, and that falls on me. I gotta get them better prepared to play." Self gave highly touted freshman Cheick Diallo his first start this season, but Diallo played just 13 minutes and wasn't a factor. The Cowboys, who were averaging 33 percent from behind the arc, made 11 of 21 attempts from deep against the Jayhawks. Kansas (15-3, 4-2 Big 12) is now 2-2 in true road games this season. Texas (12-6, 4-2) already has proven a giant-killer in Coach Shaka Smart's first season. The Longhorns beat then-No. 3 North Carolina in Austin back on Dec. 12, upset No. 17 Iowa State also in Austin on Jan. 12 and then on Wednesday went to No. 6 West Virginia and won 56-49. Javan Felix led the way with 17 points, and WVU shot 31 percent from the field, 14 percent from behind the 3-point line and 35 percent from the free-throw line. It was UT's first road win against a Top-10 team since 2010-11. Kansas was 2-0 vs. Texas last season. Kansas, which has been a much different team at home. Texas is 2-5 ATS in its past seven road games. KU is 12-5 ATS in its past 17 after a loss.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Kansas -12
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

 

No. 20 Duke vs. NC State
What's going on with the Blue Devils? Duke (14-5, 3-3 ACC) certainly will fall out of the Top 25 for the first time in several years if it loses this game as it has dropped three straight following a shocking 64-62 home loss to Syracuse on Monday. The three-game skid is Duke's longest since the 2006-07 season, which is also the last time it was unranked. Coach Mike Krzyzewski had a hilarious press conference after Monday's loss as he wanted to rip the officiating but instead used the word "amazing" at least 10 times. He was particularly upset a non-call against SU's Malachi Richardson, who made obvious contact with Matt Jones in the final seconds of the game during a scramble for a loose ball. Hard to call a loose-ball foul at that point. Coach K also skipped the end of the handshake line after the loss but said it was to scold some Duke fans who were yelling at Syracuse's players. It's the first time since 1968-89 Duke has lost three straight to unranked teams. NC State (11-8, 1-5) has been a huge disappointment in the ACC but ended a five-game losing streak with a 78-61 win at Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The Wolfpack were up 28 at one point. NCSU star Anthony "Cat" Barber, the ACC's leading scorer, had 31 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Duke can't lose four in a row. Right? Right! Take Blue Devils as the NCAA basketball pick even though they have lost three of the past four in Raleigh. NC State is just 1-4 ATS in its past five at home this season. 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Duke -4
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline