College hoops fans are going to be treated to many entertaining basketball games on Saturday, with a full schedule offering some particularly tasty tilts across the nation.
Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Colorado Buffaloes (In Las Vegas)
Saturday, 11:35 PM ET
College Basketball Betting Odds: Oklahoma State -6
The late-night main event in Las Vegas this Saturday is not a pay-per-view boxing match, but a collision of former Big 12 opponents Oklahoma State and Colorado. The Cowboys are still in the Big 12 while the Buffaloes are in the Pac-12, so they won’t have a chance to play twice this season (unless they lock horns in the NCAA tournament). However, they will get to play each other once, and their meeting at the MGM Grand Arena should be appointment viewing for any college basketball enthusiast.
This is a game for wing scorers. Spencer Dinwiddie is Colorado’s main man. His agility and length make him a very difficult matchup at both ends of the floor, but especially when the Buffaloes have the ball. Oklahoma State will have to account for him and prevent him from getting to the rim. For Oklahoma State, Marcus Smart is a player who will likely be a top-seven selection in the 2014 NBA Draft. He passed over the 2013 draft even though he probably would have been a top-10 pick, and as a result, he is going to make Oklahoma State a legitimate Final Four contender. Smart’s defense is underrated, but he is a lethal and overwhelmingly strong scorer, chiefly because he possesses great range on his three-point shot. Smart is the kind of player that can score from any place on the floor, and that’s probably going to have a substantial negative effect on Colorado’s defense. Take Oklahoma State in this game because of the way in which Smart can take over a game.
Pick: Oklahoma State
Georgetown Hoyas @ Kansas Jayhawks
Saturday, 12:05 PM ET
College Basketball Betting Odds: Georgetown -8.5
This is a game in which the early tip-off on Saturday will make things harder for the visiting team, the Georgetown Hoyas. What will also hurt Georgetown is that a youthful Kansas team gets to play at home. Kansas looked lost for prolonged stretches of its road game at Florida last week. The Jayhawks’ halfcourt offense bogged down against the Gators, even though Florida was missing a number of key players. Kansas is very raw and unpolished. The Jayhawks are not going to figure everything out right away. They should be able to gain a fuller understanding of what coach Bill Self is teaching them by the middle of February. Yet, while Kansas is in the midst of a slow growth process, it should have enough to beat Georgetown and cover the spread this week.
Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Missouri Tigers (In St. Louis)
Saturday, 5:35 PM ET
College Basketball Betting Odds: Missouri -2
This neutral-court game, played in St. Louis every season, is regularly close and emotional. It’s very hard to get a read on this game precisely because both teams take it so seriously, taking the floor with a level of energy that is unusually high for a non-conference game involving teams that are outside the top 15. Give an edge on the college basketball spread to Illinois, because Illini coach John Groce is likely to outmaneuver Missouri coach Frank Haith.