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 @ Kansas Jayhawks
Saturday, 4:05 PM ET
College Basketball Betting Odds: Kansas -5.5
The Kansas Jayhawks have won every Big 12 Conference championship since the 2005 season. The last team to win the Big 12 (outright or shared) in a year when Kansas did not win it was Oklahoma State, back in 2004. Oklahoma State has the kind of superstar player, Marcus Smart, who can take over a game and enable a visiting team to do well in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, one of the toughest places to win for a road team in college basketball. Smart is the kind of dynamic player who, like Kevin Durant of Texas, made an opposing team powerful enough to offer the threat of a Big 12 coup. However, Kansas has been strong in the first two weeks of Big 12 play. A road win at Iowa State on Monday showed that the Jayhawks have turned the corner. They should win here.
Iowa State Cyclones @ Texas Longhorns
Saturday, 4:05 PM ET
College Basketball Betting Odds: Iowa State -1.5
This is a game in which the Cyclones are going to be asked to step up their level of performance. Iowa State has lost consecutive games to Oklahoma and Kansas after starting the season without a loss. The Cyclones know that the Big 12 is a deep and rugged conference, one in which they’re going to suffer some ups and downs. However, they know that not every team will be as hot as Oklahoma was when the Sooners beat them on Jan. 11, and they know that not every team is as tough as Kansas is. This game against Texas offers Iowa State a chance to get healthy. The Longhorns have been better than anticipated this season, but they’re still very much a team that is not as skilled as previous incarnations of Texas basketball. The Longhorns are no sure thing for the NCAA tournament, whereas Iowa State is. The Cyclones’ talent should be able to prevail in this situation and cover on the betting lines.
Pick: Iowa State
Michigan State Spartans @ Illinois Fighting Illini
Saturday, 8:05 PM ET
College Basketball Betting Odds: Michigan State -4.5
This is a dangerous spot for Michigan State, despite a really good start in the Big Ten. The Spartans have been winning consistently, but they haven’t been playing consistently. Michigan State has won multiple overtime games in the Big Ten and has survived a lot of up-and-down patches in games. The Spartans have come back from double-digit deficits and blown them as well. There’s no rhyme or reason to the way in which Michigan State has played this season. Now, the Spartans have to go on the road to face an Illinois team which is fuming after losing to Northwestern on Sunday. This is a game in which the Illini will probably play with more energy than the Spartans, and that will be good enough to result in a college basketball betting upset.