NCAA Basketball Picks For Saturday: Get Off To Winning Early Start

Matthew Jordan

Friday, February 12, 2016 6:58 PM GMT

I'm breaking down my Saturday previews again this week in terms of start time. Here are three important major conference games that tipoff before 4 p.m. ET and my recommendations with BetOnline's NCAA Basketball odds.

Georgetown vs. No. 20 Providence (-4.5)
Can a ranked team be on the NCAA Tournament bubble? I can answer that in two ways for Providence: yes and the Friars may not be ranked in Monday's new polls even if they win this game. They have two stellar players in forward Ben Bentil, the Big East's leading scorer, and All-American guard Kris Dunn but not much else. Providence (18-7, 6-6 Big East) dropped a third straight game and fourth in five on Wednesday, 96-91 in double overtime at unranked Marquette. Bentil had a career-high 42 points -- most by a Marquette opponent at the Bradley Center and Bentil's sixth straight game with at least 20 points -- and 12 rebounds, while Dunn had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists. But, again, little help. One would think a return home Saturday might solve Providence's problems, but it's just 1-4 in its past five there. That includes another loss to Marquette, which is probably the conference's third-worst team. Georgetown (14-11, 7-5) is definitely on the NCAA bubble. The Hoyas ended a three-game losing streak with a 92-67 rout of terrible St. John's on Monday. Senior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led three 20-point GU players with 24. He moved into sixth place on Georgetown's all-time scoring list. Providence won at Georgetown 73-69 on Jan. 30. Bentil and Dunn each had 26 points. They combined for 29 first-half points and GU had just 28 as a team. Georgetown shot just 5-for-19 from long range. Back Providence at -4.5 NCAA Basketball odds. The Hoyas are 1-5 ATS in their past six games. Providence is 9-2 ATS in its past 11 at home vs. teams with a losing road record. PC has covered four of the past five meetings.

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NCAA Basketball Picks: Providence -4.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

No. 22 Kentucky vs. South Carolina (+1)
First place is on the line here in the SEC as the Wildcats (18-6, 8-3)  and Gamecocks (21-3, 8-3) are tied atop the standings with LSU; the Tigers have a tough home game vs. No. 15 Texas A&M (in second place) on Saturday. Kentucky won a second straight blowout, both at home, 82-48 over Georgia on Tuesday. Tyler Ulis hit a 3-pointer to break a 4-4 tie and Kentucky never looked back. The 48 points were UK's fewest allowed this season. The Cats look like a Final Four team when they play at Rupp Arena but like an NIT club on the road. And UK got some bad news in that senior forward Alex Poythress, who missed the past two games, will miss another two weeks with a right knee injury. Poythress is averaging 10 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 59.7 percent from the field. He's one of the team's few good post players. Freshman 7-footer Isaac Humphries has seen more playing time with Poythress out. South Carolina beat visiting LSU 94-83 on Wednesday to create a logjam atop the SEC. The Gamecocks had some foul trouble but their bench came up big by scoring 31 points, led by Duane Notice's 15, compared to 14 for LSU reserves. Sindarius Thornwell led USC with 24 points. This is the only scheduled meeting between UK and USC this season. Bet South Carolina +1.5. UK is 2-7 ATS in its past nine road games. USC is 14-3 ATS in its past 17 at home.

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NCAA Basketball Picks: South Carolina +1.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

No. 6 Kansas vs. No. 3 Oklahoma (-4.5)
This Big 12 matchup is the marquee matchup of the day and these two might have played the game of the year already. Oklahoma (20-3, 8-3) and Kansas (20-4, 8-3) are tied atop the Big 12 standings with  West Virginia. The Sooners were nearly upset at home by No. 24 Texas on Monday but escaped with a 63-60 win on a 3-pointer from national player of the year favorite and Big 12 leading scorer Buddy Hield with 1.3 seconds left. He dominated the final three minutes of that game as stars as supposed to do. Hield, who had 27 points, leads all major conference players in scoring and is first nationally with 4.17 made 3-pointers per game. Kansas won a fourth straight Tuesday,  beating No. 10 West Virginia 75-65 in Lawrence. One of the Jayhawks' lesser-known players, Landen Lucas, was the star with a career-high 16 rebounds to go with nine points and four blocks. Kansas shot 56 percent from the field and never trailed. KU has now  won 37 straight at home and is 4-0 there vs. ranked teams. That includes a 109-106 triple-overtime thriller over the Sooners on Jan. 4 when Kansas was No. 1 in the nation and Oklahoma No. 2. KU missed chances to win at the end of regulation and the first two OTs. Hield was magnificent with a career-high 46 points but seemed to wear down with two big turnovers in the third OT. Take Oklahoma -4.5 with your NCAA Basketball picks. None of the trends agree with me. But each of these teams are unbeaten at home so I'm sticking with that.

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NCAA Basketball Picks: Oklahoma -4.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage