One of the most loaded days of the college basketball season thus far arrives on Saturday, with the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge highlighting the weekend’s action. The slate tilts early and runs through the night to polish the slate with a matchup against No. 8 Kentucky at 8 p.m. 9 will end with the Kansas matchup.
The Big 12 is rated the best conference in college hoops this season after a No. 1 ranking last season, but the SEC has some bragging rights heading into the weekend after tying the series in 2019, winning each of its last two challenges—4 of 20 since the Big 12’s inception in 2013-14. 3 edge (both years the leagues were tied) as well as a 48-41 overall record. But the SEC is challenging in this event and has some favorable matchups that could be the first league to three-peat since the Big 12 did it three years ago.
Here our experts have picks and predictions for the biggest games of the day.
Odds by Caesars Sportsbook | East at all times
Special game | Oklahoma Sooners vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
2 pm | ESPN, fuboTV (try it for free) — Alabama beat some really good teams in the game this season — among them Kentucky, Missouri And State of Michigan — but I think OU keeps it close. The Crimson Tide hasn’t lost since mid-December, but has flirted with losing several times in recent outings. The Chinese at home and their depth will keep it tight and in numbers. Prediction: Oklahoma +6 — Boone
Special game | LSU Tigers vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
2 pm | ESPNU, fuboTV (try it for free) — LSU has lost seven straight and Texas Tech has lost eight straight, so on paper this looks like a pretty balanced matchup of struggling teams. But while the Red Raiders were at least competitive during that stretch, the Tigers averaged 24.8 points over their last four games. I’ll fade LSU until it shows it’s not worth the fade. Prediction: Texas Tech -3 — Boone
Special game | Missouri Tigers vs. Iowa State Cyclones
2 pm | ESPN2, fuboTV (try it for free) — A very evenly matched game between ISU and Mizzou here — good defense against the Cyclones and a good offense from the Tigers — so I’m going to lean the home team. Missouri’s only loss this season was on its home floor to a potential No. 1 seed Kansas And Alabama so if I’m getting points for the home team I’ll take it. Prediction: Missouri +1.5 — Boone
Special game | Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. TCU Horned Frogs
4 pm | ESPN2, fuboTV (try it for free) — This TCU team has double-digit wins over Kansas and OU, so I’d love to see them rotate on the road against a lower-tier SEC club. The Bulldogs have been competitive despite falling off their 11-0 start to a 12-8 record, so I expect this to be close, but riding the Horned Frogs here. Prediction: TCU -2 — Boone
Special game | Baylor Bears vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
4 pm | ESPN, fuboTV (try it for free) — Davonte Davis has emerged as a difference-maker for Arkansas, Ricky Council IV slumped slightly and No. 1 recruit Nick Smith Jr. is still sidelined with a knee injury. Waco was led by a backcourt trio of Keonte George, LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler. These two teams go in opposite directions, so I’ll take the late riser. Prediction: Baylor -6 — Boone
Special game | Tennessee Volunteers vs. Texas Longhorns
6 pm | ESPN, fuboTV (try it for free) — Another sad choice. I think this is likely to be the best game of the weekend. Texas has a top-shelf offense and goes on the road to face a Tennessee team built around its No. 1-ranked defense. My only concern is whether or not there are horses to keep up the Vols Horns. Tennessee hasn’t had that problem of late, but this Texas team is built to pull off this win even in a road venue. Prediction: Texas +7.5 — Boone
Special game | Kansas State Wildcats vs. Florida Gators
6 pm | ESPN2, fuboTV (try it for free) — Kansas State is still undefeated at home all season under first-year coach Jerome Tang, and that streak rolls into the Florida Octagon of Doom this weekend. The Wildcats are 8-3 ATS at home this season, so I’d like to put the number with them at this point. Prediction: Kansas State -5 — Boone
No. 9 Kansas at Kentucky
Special game | Kentucky Wildcats vs. Kansas Jayhawks
8 pm | ESPN, fuboTV (try it for free) — One of the most fascinating elements of the Kentucky-Kansas matchup will be how KU’s understated approach will look in the front court against UK’s interior monster Oscar DeShipwe. While UK has developed a more flexible and versatile defense, the Wildcats haven’t played as aggressively as Kansas since they were burned by Alabama on Jan. 7 amid the reduced role of undersized point guard Zahvir Wheeler. It could be a long night for UK if the Jayhawks can use their undersized teams to keep Shipway away from the basket and keep Kentucky off 1-on-1 triples with players like Jalen Wilson, Grady Dick and Kevin McCuller. Prediction: Kansas +1 — David Cobb
Special game | Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Ole Miss Rebels
8 pm | ESPN2, fuboTV (try it for free) — This Oklahoma State team has got some sass and looks like it could be a tricky second weekend team with veteran guard play and the way it plays inside and outside with the odd pairing of Kalib Boone and Moussa Cisse. I like this pull pokes a close one. Prediction: Ole Miss +10 — Boone
12 noon | ESPN, fuboTV (try it for free) — Kicking the predictions with an upset pick! Auburn has a terrific bunch that can play inside and out with Wendell Green and Johnny Broom. West Virginia is a tough out, especially Morgantown, but talent for talent I think I’d like the Tigers by a smidge to make this close and maybe pull off the upset in the first game of the day. Prediction: Auburn +4 — Boone
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