I’m not one to play the “bad beat” card too often because people seem quick to forget lucky wins, but did LSU really have to blow a 10-point lead in the final 75 seconds against Florida to push? Oh well. I will gladly take 5-3-1 any day. This weekend we have even more spectacular matchups and it only gets better from here.
Disclaimer: I write this article the night before and it gets published the morning of the games. I shop around for the best lines but sometimes they change before tip-off. If you have any questions on if I would play certain lines feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @ryancoleman_98
Baylor at Florida
7:00 pm central, ESPN
Line: Florida -2.5
The Pick: Baylor +2.5 (Play of the Day)
It appears that the public, along with Vegas, is still holding onto hope that Florida is the preseason team everyone expected them to be but the Gators have yet to prove that is the case. Sure, they have shown flashes of greatness but those flashes have been quickly extinguished represented by their 12-6 record including three losses to teams outside the top 50. They handled Auburn, who was ranked fourth at the time, but the Tigers showed before that game they were nowhere near invincible with a 19-point loss to Alabama. I don’t have to tell you that Baylor is the better team here, that should be obvious. The Bears’ interior defense is elite, holding opponents to just 41.5% shooting inside the arc and all three games where Florida has shot under 47% from two, the Gators have lost by an average margin of 10 points. Baylor has proved that they can play on the road and battle when they are playing down. Eventually, yes, I do expect the Bears to falter, as nearly all teams have experienced one hiccup or another this season, but today is not that day.
Kentucky at Texas Tech
5:00 pm central, ESPN
Line: Texas Tech -4.0
The Pick: Kentucky +4.0
Man, I wanted to pick Texas Tech so bad but in this case Texas Tech is Superman, and Kentucky is their kryptonite. The Wildcats excel at getting fouled and being sent to the line, with their percentage of points coming from the free throw line ranking 10th highest in the nation. As I am sure you can assume, Texas Tech fouls a lot and to make matters worse, they don’t have that deep or experienced bench. If Texas Tech gets into foul trouble early, which is relatively likely, Kentucky may be able to take control of this game. Chris Beard also prefers to keep players in mostly with two-fouls in the first half compared to other teams, which could lead to some big issues if this game is close near the end. Give me the Wildcats here.
Illinois at Michigan
11:00 am central, FOX Sports 1
Line: Michigan -4.0
The Pick: Illinois +4.0 (Play of the Day pt. 2)
Illinois has been hot. Michigan has not. I expect this mini-trend to continue but don’t worry I have some more #goodanalysis for you. 61.3% of Michigan’s opponents points come from inside-the-arc, the fourth highest in the nation. Illinois offense generates 58.6% of their points from inside-the-arc so already their style of play lines up well with Michigan. Illinois boasts the ninth best near-proximity shooting percentage but even if they are inefficient or off for the day, they are an elite offensive rebounding team and can take advantage of second-chance opportunities. I don’t think I expected to write this sentence at the beginning of the season but by the end of this weekend, the Fighting Illini could very well be alone atop the Big Ten standings and that would start with a cover and a win today.
Arizona at Arizona State
8:30 pm central, Pac-12 Network
Line: Arizona -5.0
The Pick: Arizona State +5.0
Happy underdog Saturday I guess because this is the fourth-straight dog I’m riding with, and for good reason. The Wildcats have been all over the place this season and so have the Sun-Devils, both with their fair share of wins and losses. The most important part is that Arizona is on the road and they have been dreadful away from home, like the worst team in the nation dreadful. Arizona has yet to win a game on the road and their three wins on neutral courts were against sub-100 ranked teams with a scare against 150th ranked Pepperdine. Their Oregon loss was an overtime game, sure, but their 17-point setback to Oregon State, a team Arizona State beat by six on the road, is scary. Both teams have had plenty of rest and with Arizona State coming off an impressive win over Utah, I expect their place to be rocking and for the Sun Devils to come out blazing instead of being no shows like the game against Saint Mary’s. Sprinkle some moneyline action on Arizona State but I expect this to be an awesome game and the Sun Devils to at least cover along the way.
TCU at Arkansas
3:00 pm central, ESPN2
Line: Arkansas -6.5
The Pick: Arkansas -6.5 (Play of the Day pt. 3)
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. TCU lives and dies by the three, with 41.1% of their points coming from beyond-the-arc, ranking eighth highest in the nation. Arkansas has the best exterior defense in the nation, limiting opponents to 23.9% from downtown and allowing just 19.9% of opponents points to come from three, the 351st lowest in the nation. TCU is going to have to completely change their game plan if they want to contest with the Razorbacks and Arkansas has the home-court advantage as well. I expect Arkansas to cruise here and cover six points easily.
Tennessee at Kansas
3:00 pm central, ESPN
Line: Kansas -13.5
The Pick: Kansas -13.5
Yes we all know the story of the brawl and suspensions that hit Kansas but every team seems to bounce back when they lose players for some unimaginable reason. Also the Jayhawks are quite good and Tennessee really is not. Their two wins against top-50 teams, Washington and VCU, look less and less impressive as the season wears on. And the Volunteers losses have been by…a lot. Their average margin of defeat is by 11.7 points with three of those games coming at home. The Volunteers are not the team of old and Kansas is dangerous. Tennessee might not even eclipse 50-points here and their one strength of getting to the foul line, Kansas snuffs out with their defensive discipline. Tennessee’s interior defense might be elite too but Kansas can find different ways to score and I expect them to.
- Clemson at Louisville (-11.0): Clemson +11.0
- Washington at Colorado (-7.0): Colorado -7.0
- Nebraska at Rutgers (-13.0): Rutgers -13.0
- Missouri at West Virginia (-12.5): WVU -12.5
- Mississippi State at Oklahoma (PK): Oklahoma PK
- Virginia Tech (-3.5) at Boston College: Virginia Tech -3.5
- Florida A&M (-6.5) at Howard: Florida A&M -6.5
- Hampton at Radford (-9.0): Radford -9.0
- Houston Baptist at McNeese State (-10.5): McNeese State -10.5
- Arkansas Pine Bluff at Prairie View A&M (-17.0): PV A&M -17.0
- Washington State at Utah (-7.5): Washington State +7.5
- Pacific at Gonzaga (-21.0): Gonzaga -21.0
- Fairleigh Dickinson at Sacred Heart (-9.5): FDU +9.5
- Dayton (-6.0) at Richmond: Dayton -6.0
- Notre Dame at Florida State (-8.0): Notre Dame +8.0
- LSU (-2.0) at Texas: LSU -2.0
- Villanova (-2.0) at Providence: Villanova -2.0
Last time: 5-3-1
Play of the Day: 3-1-1
Season Total: 123-92-4*
*While I don’t post all my plays, you can follow each of my picks on the Action Sports Network app by following me @RcCola3