After a quiet few days of basketball, Saturday’s action is going to feature two battles of top 25 teams in the Big 12 as well as a few other awesome games. Finally we get a full slate of college basketball games with big time impacts on the NCAA Tournament race. March Madness is right around the corner and we are in the thick of conference play right now. Today’s action features a couple awesome games in the Big 12 as well as in the Mountain West, which has quietly put together the potential for being a three to four bid league this year.
National Game of the Day: #11 Kansas (15-3, 4-1 Big 12) @ #17 Texas (14-4, 3-2 Big 12)
Kansas and Texas have been two of the premiere teams in the Big 12 for the better part of the last decade. This year, there is a ton of competition in the Big 12 and Kansas is no shoe-in to win the league this year but this game will be a huge litmus test. They lost on the road at Iowa State last weekend and have another chance to earn a huge road win today at Texas. Right now, Kansas is a young team built on defense but there offense has been improving with each passing day. They have scored over 80 points in three out of the last four games. They are a very balanced team with five guys averaging over eight points per game. There best and most consistent player this year has been sophomore point guard Frank Mason, who is averaging 12.7 points, 4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.4 steals per game while shooting a blistering 47.2% from three. The team goes as he goes and when he has a bad game the team usually does as well. Texas is an unbelievable defensive team led by one of the best freshman in the entire country in Myles Turner. Texas, like Kansas, has five players averaging over eight points per game, including four who average over ten. Myles Turner leads the team in both scoring and rebounding at 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. They have been a much better team since their star sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor returned. However, Kansas has experience playing in big games like this and I say they pull the upset in a fun one that goes to overtime with Kansas winning 77 to 75.
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#2 Game of the Day: #19 Oklahoma (12-6, 3-3 Big 12) @ #21 Baylor (14-4, 2-3 Big 12)
This is one of those fun matchups where two teams with totally different styles matchup. Oklahoma is an up-tempo, high-scoring team while Baylor is a grind-it-out, defensive-minded team. Which style wins out likely determines who wins the game. Oklahoma gets a ton of production from their 6’4″ junior shooting guard, Buddy Hield. Hield is averaging 18.1 points and 5.6 rebounds a game while playing particularly efficient basketball. They average an impressive five blocks per game as a team and don’t give up anything easy in the paint. Baylor has incredible balance, with six players averaging between 7.7 and 12.2 points per game. There best player is junior forward Rico Gathers, who is averaging a double double at 10.8 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. However, they struggle as a team shooting free throws and in what I expect to be a close game, I think this does them in and Oklahoma pulls the road upset, 65 to 62.
#3 Game of the Day: San Diego State (15-4, 5-1 Mountain West) @ Colorado State (17-2, 4-2 Mountain West)
This is going to be a really fun game if you love watching defense. While Colorado State is a pretty good offensive team, nobody has been able to crack San Diego State’s defensive code and their games are typically very low scoring. I expect this to be a grind it out game. On a side note, the Mountain West conference has quietly had an excellent season. They should be looking at no less than three bids with the possibility of getting four bids if New Mexico keeps improving. Back to the game now, San Diego State’s scoring is led by future NBA prospect Winston Sheppard. Sheppard averages 11 points and 4.9 rebounds per game and reminds me a lot of Kawhi Leonard, a former San Diego State star. Colorado State has five players averaging over 9.3 points per game but nobody on there team is better than J.J. Avila, their star 6’7″ senior forward. Avila has averaged 15 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while dishing out an impressive 3.1 assists as well along with taking the ball away 1.9 times per game. He is a potential Mountain West player of the year winner and he needs to have a huge game. I say Colorado State defends its home court and wins 67 to 59.
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