NCAA Basketball Picks: Winning Early-Afternoon Plays For Saturday

Matthew Jordan

Friday, February 5, 2016 8:27 PM UTC

Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 8:27 PM UTC

I will break down my previews again this week into early and late games. Here are my top three NCAA Basketball picks for the tipoffs before 5 p.m. ET with the updated NCAA Basketball odds.

Texas Tech vs. Texas 
First-year coach Shaka Smart is starting to work his magic with Texas as the Longhorns (15-7, 6-3 Big 12) have won three straight and six of seven and probably are an NCAA Tournament at-large team right now. But the Horns better win this game or they could be in  major trouble because here are the next four: at No. 1 Oklahoma, at No. 13 Iowa State,  vs. No. 14 West Virginia and vs. No. 15 Baylor. UT still has to play Oklahoma again and Kansas too.  Yikes! The Horns did upset Baylor in Waco on Monday, ending the Bears' 27-game home winning streak against unranked teams. Amazingly, UT had an assist on all 21 field goals. In Big 12 action play, Texas leads the conference in effective field goal percentage defense at 44.0 and is allowing foes to score only 23 percent of their points behind the 3-point arc. That's the way to win in the modern game (NBA too). Texas Tech (13-8, 3-6) got off to an 11-1 start this season but things have gone downhill sense. TTU does come off a 63-61 OT home win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday. Devaugntah Williams' only basket of the game was a layup with 0.5 seconds remaining in overtime.  He also hit a game-winner vs. Oklahoma State last year. Texas Tech beat visiting Texas 82-74 on Jan. 2 in the Big 12 opener for both. It was the Red Raiders' 10th straight victory at the time. Williams had 23 points to lead the Red Raiders. Isaiah Taylor led the Longhorns with a career-high 35 points. UT had won 14 of the previous 15 meetings. TTU is 1-6 against the NCAA basketball odds in its past seven Big 12 games, while Texas has covered its past four in the conference.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas -8
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


NC State vs. Duke 
I previewed Duke's game Tuesday at Georgia Tech on my picks story that night and recommended giving the 3.5 points to the Yellow Jackets. Duke won 80-71 but did trail by four at halftime. It held Georgia Tech to 31 percent shooting in the second half after 58 percent in the first. Grayson Allen had 27 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and freshman Brandon Ingram 14 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks to lead the Blue Devils. Duke (16-6, 5-4 ACC) won without Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, who didn't make the trip due to an illness. It’s was the first game Krzyzewski missed since the 1994-95 season. That was the sophomore year at Duke for ex-point guard Jeff Capel, the Blue Devils assistant who filled in vs. Tech. Coach K will be on the bench at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday. A win here could get Duke back into the Top 25. NC State (12-11, 2-8) can only play spoiler at this point and maybe hope for an NIT bid. The Wolfpack have lost three of four but do have the ACC's leading scorer in Anthony "Cat" Barber, who averages 23.4 points per game. Over his past five, he's averaging 29.4 ppg and hitting 52.1 percent from the field. NC State hosted Duke on Jan. 23 and the Blue Devils won 88-78. Allen and Ingram combined for 53 points. The Wolfpack, who got 19 from Barber, led by seven at halftime. The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. Take Duke with your NCAA basketball picks.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Duke -11.5
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


Florida vs. #20 Kentucky 
Kentucky, on a two-game skid, almost surely will fall outside the Top 25 with a loss to Florida on Saturday in SEC action. The Wildcats (16-6, 6-3) were upset at Tennessee on 84-77 on Tuesday, blowing a 21-point first-half lead and 14 in the second. Tyler Ulis continued his great play in the loss with 20 points and five assists. It was his fifth straight 20-point game. All of UK's losses have been away from Rupp Arena this season and it has allowed at least 74 points in each of them. Kentucky also has been outrebounded in five of its six losses and allowed at least eight 3-pointers in each of the past three defeats. Florida (15-7, 6-3) is probably in the NCAA Tournament right now but not by much. The Gators are playing their best basketball, however, winning five of six. The followed a home upset of No. 9 West Virginia last Saturday with an 87-83 victory over visiting Arkansas on Wednesday. The Hogs nearly staged a big rally with 11 points over the game's final 37 seconds. Dorian Finney-Smith scored 22 points and had nine rebounds to lead Florida.  The Gators are 1-4 vs. ranked teams this season, with all the losses away from Gainesville. They were 0-3 last year vs. Kentucky, which was No. 1 all season. UK is 5-1 ATS in its past six at home. And the home team has covered four in a row in this series.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Kentucky -6
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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