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Previewing the Mid-Late Slate of Saturday's College Basketball Games

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As always we’re not going to waste any time getting into the Saturday preview blogs. We had the early slate (12-2:30 tips) already and with the late slate being a little weak we’ll just put the rest together here.

Creighton at Providence (-2) – 3:00 pm, CBS SportsNetwork

This is the first game we’ll see Creighton without Martin Krampelj, the big guy who tore his ACL in the last game. He’s not the big name on this team as Creighton is dominated in the backcourt, but what Krampelj brought to the floor was a decent rim protector and a guy who could really rebound. Because of that I’m curious to see how Creighton looks having to run Toby Hegner a bunch. Providence has started to right the ship after an injury-plagued nonconference which resulted in some bad losses. I’m curious to see who McDermott puts Khyri Thomas on, considering he’s one of the best defenders in the country. Part of me says just put him on Cartwright and disrupt the offense but Bullock also makes sense. I’l take Providence here though until I see how Creighton looks without Krampelj, plus Providence needs this win with road games at Villanova and Seton Hall on deck.

Arizona at Stanford (+5) – 4:00 pm, CBS

What if I told you Stanford is in position to win the Pac-12? You probably wrote them off after the nonconfenrence, but getting Dorian Pickens has been so important for this team. Stanford has won its last five including wins over USC, UCLA and Arizona State. Arizona will get the ball to Deandre Ayton – as long as they remember he’s on the court – which is where they’ll have a serious advantage. Ayton should have a big game tonight as Stanford doesn’t really have anyone to stick on him. Keep an eye on how Arizona defends Reid Travis though, especially when both Ristic and Ayton are on the floor together. I think Arizona wins this game but Stanford should stay with in the number at home.

Baylor at Kansas (-9) – 6:00 pm, ESPN

So we found out earlier today about Billy Preston and signing with a Bosnian professional team, so at least that won’t be hanging over the Jayhawks the rest of the season. Now, Kansas comes back home after coming from behind against West Virginia and welcomes a Baylor team that has been beat up and sputtering lately, losing 4 of its last 6. One of two things will happen here. Kansas will come out and get out to a 26-12 lead or something like that and blow Baylor out or there will be a bit of a letdown after the West Virginia game and Baylor is able to keep it close. Personally, I think you see Kansas start to figure it out and now play with confidence. Don’t be surprised to see Graham get 20 points and Svi hit 5 threes today. There’s always a point in the year where Kansas struggles a little and everyone wants to write them off. We saw that. I’ll take Kansas here.

Florida at Kentucky (-2.5) – 8:00 pm, ESPN 

Kentucky got an important piece back in Jarred Vanderbilt during the South Carolina game. He’s a 6’9″ point forward that should bring that toughness that this team lacks. What I want to see though is if Quade Green is able to play this game and just how healthy he is with that lingering back issue because a lineup of Green/Gilgeous-Alexander/Vanderbilt/Knox/Washington could be really good offensively. For Florida it’s all about how they shoot the ball. I mean it’s as simple as that. When they shoot the ball well they can compete with anyone in the country but if they struggle to shoot, they barely look like a NCAA Tournament team. I’ll take Kentucky here due to the addition of Vanderbilt plus playing at home, but it’s going to be close. Florida typically shoots the ball decent at Rupp Arena, but that’s just so hard to trust.

Boise State at Nevada (-6) – 10:00 pm, ESPNU

Here’s a game flying under the radar – along with Utah Valley/New Mexico State – at the midmajor level. Nevada and Boise State are two teams who could potentially get at large bids if they don’t win the Mountain West Conference. Chandler Hutchinson is one of the better players in the country who doesn’t get the recognition he should simply because he plays at Boise State. He’s a potential first round pick in the NBA Draft. Nevada has been able to put together a good mix of high major transfers and then guys they recruited like Jordan Caroline to get to where they are – ranked No. 19 on KenPom. I absolutely love this Nevada team and it wouldn’t shock me to see them in the Sweet 16. I’m taking them here as they can shoot over Boise’s zone defense and then get out and run with all the athleticism they have on the wings.