Saturday's Slate of College Hoops is Must Watch: Preview and Picks


We have our first holy shit slate of games this Saturday. There are four games with both teams in the top-25 playing along with a classic in Brooklyn and Duke playing at MSG. All in all going to be a hell of a Saturday if you just want to sit on your couch or go to the local bar to watch games.

As always, I’ll try to help you all win money and give out some winners while breaking down the games. If you’re going to be in Brooklyn tomorrow, let me know @barstoolreags as I’ll be attending the CBS Classic as well.

Duke vs Utah – Noon, Madison Square Garden

This is the first big game for Duke without Amile Jefferson and it comes against one of the best bigs in the country. Duke will have its hands full with Jakob Poeltl if he stays out of foul trouble. It’s going to be on big time recruit Chase Jeter to step up for Duke as he’ll be the guy to fill in for Jefferson. Utah has been struggling on defending the 3, ranking 335th in the country on KenPom in that category. That will likely be the difference in this game with Grayson Allen, Matt Jones and Luke Kennard all viable shooters for Duke. Not to mention Duke hardly loses in the Garden.

The Pick: Duke by 8

Villanova at Virginia – Noon

Brutal matchup for Nova having to go to Virginia in this one. Both teams are in the bottom 50 in the country in free throw rate, so expect this game to by in about an hour and a half. Villanova will continue to shoot a ton of 3’s. The Wildcats shoot more than half of their shots from deep and were making under 30 percent as a team. However, advanced stats tell you they aren’t a bad shooting team because 3-point shooting going forward is based on five things: 3-point percentage, 2-point percentage, FT percentage, 3-point attempt rate and free throws. Nova dominates the other four categories, meaning they will turn around their shooting at some point. I don’t think it’s this game though. I expect it to be close, but winning on the road is so tough in college hoops.

The Pick: Virginia by 5

UNC vs UCLA – 1pm, Barclays Center

UCLA is on an absolute tear right now after beating Kentucky and Gonzaga. I guess that loss to Monmouth earlier in the season isn’t looking too shabby either? UNC is coming into this game with Marcus Paige back but no Kennedy Meeks now. The big question is if UCLA can take advantage of that with Tony Parker in the post. Parker is averaging a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds but most importantly he’s playing nearly 30 minutes a game. Parker is a LOAD in the paint at 6’9”, 260 pounds. The Marcus Paige vs Bryce Alford 3-point contest will be fun to watch as both guys can absolutely light it up. I think this game will be closer than most people because of the absence of Meeks and how well UCLA is playing right now.

The Pick: UNC by 6

Indiana vs Notre Dame – 2pm, Indianapolis

If you enjoy offense, tune into this game. A Barstool starting five would score about 60 on Indiana simply because Tom Crean is still the head coach and they suck ass at playing defense – James Blackmon especially. Notre Dame’s offense is also a thing of beauty. They spread the floor and don’t wait for the high ball screen like you typically see in college hoops. They zip it around or drive and kick, looking for the open 3. The Demetrius Jackson vs Yogi Ferrell matchup is going to be who can score 30 first. I can’t pick Tom Crean in a big game against a high-powered offense.

The Pick: Notre Dame by 9

Kentucky vs Ohio State – 3:30, Barclays Center

The second game of the CBS Sports Classic shows two incredibly young teams. In fact Kentucky somehow just got younger with the addition of Tai Wynyard, a big man from New Zealand who is now eligible to play for Kentucky. The biggest question is does Skal Labissiere finally decide to show up? The expected No. 1 or No. 2 NBA Draft pick has frankly sucked this year and looks completely lost on the court. If you haven’t gotten a chance yet watch Isaiah Briscoe for Kentucky. The guard from Union, NJ has one of the best handles in the game and is extremely talented at finishing at the rim. He hasn’t shot the ball at all this year, but is capable of some crazy finishes.

The Pick: Kentucky by 11

Butler vs Purdue – 5pm, Indianapolis

Purdue is one of the best teams in the country no one is talking about. They have a three-headed monster in the front court with Isaac Haas, AJ Hammons and Caleb Swanigan. Butler on the other hand has a three-headed backcourt monster in Tyler Lewis, Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, who just refuses to graduate. The matchup that will determine this game? Dunham vs Purdue’s Raphael Davis, the reigning Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year. Note though, Davis is coming off an injury, so we’ll see how healthy he is in this game. Dunham meanwhile is averaging nearly 20 a game as he leads the Bulldogs, who have 5 guys scoring double digits. This is a game people could finally recognize Purdue who is undefeated but has been labeled that way because ‘they haven’t played anyone.’ In the end, Purdue’s defense will be too much.

The Pick: Purdue by 3

Baylor at Texas A&M – 9pm

Not a bad night cap after that stretch of games during the day. Both teams are ranked, with Texas A&M coming off a little bit of adversity. A top-100 recruit decided to just transfer after a couple of days and shockingly he also wasn’t a quarterback for Kevin Sumlin. The two key players for each team couldn’t be more different. Jalen Jones and Danuel House both transferred into A&M and are guards who are averaging 15 a game. Both like to crash the boards, grabbing over 5 rebounds each and look to attack the rim. Baylor on the other hand is led by double-double machine Rico Gathers and Taurean Prince, who is quietly becoming one of the best players in the country. Expect this game to be ugly, with the instate rivalry coming into play here and extremely physical as both teams are deep. As I said in the Nova/Virginia game though, winning on the road is so tough.


The Pick: Texas A&M by 1

Other games to watch will be: Auburn at Xavier, Wichita State at Seton Hall, Michigan State at Northeastern, Creighton at Oklahoma, Cincinnati at VCU, Oklahoma State at Florida, UNLV at Arizona, Tennessee vs Gonzaga and Texas at Stanford.

Enjoy the games.