Warm up for wrapping Christmas presents by checking out some college basketball betting action on Saturday. Two top-15 matchups and one top-10 team heading out for a de facto road game highlight the day.
Kansas Jayhawks @ Ohio State Buckeyes
Odds: Ohio State -3.5
The ninth-ranked Jayhawks head to Columbu where No. 7 Ohio State lost twice last season to ranked teams. Kansas has won all five meetings with Ohio State, including last December in Lawrence. They later eliminated the Buckeyes in last season’s Final Four, so the Buckeyes have a lot of motivation heading into this massive top-10 showdown.
This game also features two of the top players in the country as Kansas big man Jeff Withey roams the middle for the Jayhawks while Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas is a double-double threat. If you’re looking for a game of the week, you don’t have to look much further than KU-OSU in Columbus on Saturday.
Pick: Buckeyes -3.5
Missouri Tigers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini
Odds: Missouri -1.5
Missouri-Illinois is also a very tempting matchup as these two prepare for their annual meeting. Tenth-ranked Illinois has won seven of their last 10 meetings with Mizzou but the No. 12 Tigers have taken the last three. Illinois lives and dies by the three-pointer as they lead the country in total shots made from beyond the arc and the Tigers will have get out and put a hand in their faces or else they’ll suffer the same fate as Gonzaga, whom the Illini have already beaten on the road.
The Tigers are also fourth in the country in rebounding margin, so Illinois can’t afford to miss many shots because Mizzou will clear the glass and prevent them from getting second chances. This could be a showcase game for Illinois’ Brandon Paul, who leads the Fighting Illini in points, rebounds and assists.
Pick: Fighting Illini +1.5
Florida Gators @ Kansas State Wildcats
Odds: Florida -9.5
This is technically a neutral-site game but it is being held in Kansas City, which is obviously closer to Manhattan, Kansas than Gainesville, Florida (although the Gators travel reasonably well).
The eighth-ranked Gators have played outside of Gainesville once this season and that ended in a one-point loss at Arizona last weekend and while the Wildcats don’t have the talent that Arizona does, Kansas State is a hard-nosed team that can give anyone in the country a lot of trouble.
This likely won’t be a high-scoring affair as both teams are ranked in the top 15 nationally in terms of points allowed (Florida sits at third, KSU at 15th). Keep an eye on the matchup between Florida’s outside shooters, who are shooting 37.3% from behind the three-point line while Kansas State defends the perimeter as well as anyone, ranking third in opposition three-point percentage at 22.5%. These two programs have met just once as the Gators dropped the Wildcats 57-44 in Sunrise, Florida back in December of 2010, so Kansas State will be motivated to avenge that loss while taking down a top-10 team. Look for them to cover the college basketball spread.
Pick: Wildcats +9.5