Get ready for the best Saturday we’ve had yet and probably the rest of this college basketball season as well. That’s right, with five games with both teams ranked in the AP Top 25, we have December Madness as teams gear up for a holiday break.
Put on your best Jesse Katsopolis voice and say those two magic words along me: Haaaaah mercy. Because Saturday’s college basketball slate totally deserves it.
We have No. 8 Kansas welcome early in the day to No. 14 Indiana at Allen Fieldhouse. We have number 2 Virginia welcoming number 5 Houston in the mid-afternoon. And oh, by the way, the CBS Sports Classic doubleheader between No. 23 Ohio State and North Carolina, followed first by No. 13 Kentucky and No. 16 UCLA, all also at Madison Square Garden. For the night owls, there’s also a real nighttime treat with No. 6 Tennessee — armed with the No. 1 defense in America — taking on No. 9 Arizona — armed with the No. 1 offense in America — inside the McKale Center.
So yes, have mercy indeed.
Our experts have picks and predictions for the biggest games of the day right here.
Odds through Caesars Sportsbook | All times Eastern
Recommended game | Kansas Jayhawks v Indiana Hoosiers
12 hours | ESPN2, fuboTV (Try Free) — Indiana hasn’t quite been the same team in the last three games with freshman star Jalen Hood-Schifino shelved with an injury. The attack lacks pop and playmaking. Even if it returns, it’s reasonable to expect some rust. That’s one reason I like KU minus the points here. Another reason is more obvious: KU nails home under Bill Self. It has won 11 straight at Allen Fieldhouse and is 297-16 (!) at the venue under Self. A win on the moneyline is an almost automatic bet for KU, but I also like to lay the points. Prediction: Kansas -6 (Boone)
Recommended game | Gonzaga Bulldogs v Alabama Crimson Tide
1pm | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) — Alabama defeated Gonzaga 91-82 last season in Seattle. That Crimson Tide team was less talented and much more erratic than this year’s version. Gonzaga is still trying to figure out his collective identity outside of Drew Timme’s stardom. With the game being played in Birmingham this year, the Crimson Tide should have an edge in terms of fan support. Though young, this Alabama team proved it can handle pressure situations in a win over Houston last week. Forecast: Alabama -1.5 (Cobb)
Recommended game | Virginia Cavaliers v Houston Cougars
2pm | ESPN2, fuboTV (Try Free) — You can think about matchups like this by considering location, home field advantage, road performance — but I’ll keep it simple. I choose the best team. That’s Houston. So I’ll take the Cougars. They’re going to feast on the offensive glass and I expect Marcus Sasser to find his All-American form after some streaky play lately. Prediction: Houston -2 (Boone)
Recommended game | North Carolina Tar Heels v Ohio State Buckeyes
3 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) — This is a pretty even matchup on paper, but I kinda like the Tar Heels. Armando Bacot’s measure in the paint and manufacturing on the glass will give Ohio State passes. The Buckeyes don’t really have anyone in the post that can slow him down. If UNC does what it’s supposed to do – which is feed Bacot and attack in the paint – then I think the preseason No. 1 Tar Heels can squeak this in a short amount of time. Prediction: UNC Pick’em (Boone)
Recommended game | Kentucky Wildcats v UCLA Bruins
5:15 pm | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) — Kentucky star Oscar Tshiebwe becomes a problem for UCLA. While five-star freshman center Adem Bona has shown plenty of promise for the Bruins, Tshiebwe should be drooling over the chance to bully a young player on the block. Assuming UCLA brings in some duplicate teams, this game could come down to Kentucky’s ability to take down perimeter shots. The Wildcats have been solid in that regard so far this season, shooting 39.2% from outside the arc. Even in an unfamiliar setting in London a few weeks ago, Kentucky hit 9 of 15 tries from deep with four different players getting in on the action in a big win over Michigan. Look for the UK attack to stay balanced enough here to take the win. Forecast: Kentucky +1.5 (Cobb)
Recommended game | Arizona Wildcats vs. Tennessee Volunteers
10:30 pm | ESPN2, fuboTV (Try Free) — This is a tricky one. It pits the #1 offense (Arizona) against the #1 defense (Tennessee) at the McKale Center. Which side wins? Vegas seems to like the Vols in this one a bit, but I like the Wildcats a lot in this one, so give me the Wildcats to win and cover. Tennessee has guns all over to slow down Arizona’s prolific offense, but between Oumar Ballo, Azuolas Tubelis, Courtney Ramey, Kerr Krissa and Pelle Larson, there are just too many scorers to stumble completely. Prediction: Arizona -2.5 (Boone)
Who will win and cover every college basketball game? Visit SportsLine to get picks from the model that simulates each game 10,000 times and has soared more than $1,200 for $100 players on the top-rated spread picks over the past six years.