Saturday may be the opening day of Bowl Season, but there is still a jam-packed slate of college hoops. Here's a look at all the Top 25 betting action Saturday:
Belmont Bruins at Kentucky Wildcats (-17)
Belmont has had no trouble scoring this season (80.1 points per game), but the biggest hurdle the Bruins will face in Lexington is on the glass. No Belmont player averages more than five rebounds per game, and Rick Byrd’s squad is ranked 308th nationally in rebounding at 32.3.
It’s no secret that Kentucky’s biggest question coming into this season was whether its uber-talented roster could figure out how to play together, and so far the jury is still out. Randle has been extraordinary as expected (17.2 points, 11.4 rebounds), while Aaron and Andrew Harrison have averaged 14.4 and 10.9 points respectively, but the offense still doesn’t quite feel like it’s running full throttle for Calipari yet. The Wildcats have broken 80 points just once in their last six games.
* Bruins are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Under is 4-1 in Wildcats last five overall.
* Wildcats are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 home games.
Georgetown Hoyas at Kansas Jayhawks (-8.5)
The Hoyas had a good learning experience through the first nine games and coach John Thompson III said they have soaked up a lot of knowledge. “I think we’re figuring out, as a group, how to skin a cat,” Thompson said on the team’s website. “We’re figuring out what to look for, what not to look for, what we do and don’t do well.”
Freshman-heavy Kansas has lost three of its last five contests, but is unbeaten in three games on its home court at Allen Fieldhouse where the Jayhawks are 164-8 since coach Bill Self took over in 2003-04. Self is mixing and matching with his deep but young squad while looking for the right rotation with the Big 12 season around the corner.
* Under is 4-1 in Jayhawks last five vs. Big East.
* Hoyas are 5-0 ATS in their last five vs. Big 12.
* Under is 4-0 in Hoyas last four Saturday games.
Massachusetts Minutemen vs. Florida State Seminoles (-1.5)
Game to be played at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida
The raw numbers are nothing less than gaudy for the Minutemen, who have all five starters averaging double figures and are shooting 49.2 percent for the year. It all runs through point guard Chaz Williams, who is scoring 16.3 points per game and ranks second nationally in assists at 7.9. His most common target has been Cady Lalanne, who has been a force in the paint at 14.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks for the Minutemen.
The Seminoles haven’t scored a ton this season, but have been efficient — ranking 13th nationally in field goal percentage at 50.4. White has been a key component with 14.2 points and a 54.9 rate from the floor, but the Seminole guards have been surprisingly accurate as well. Both Ian Miller (14.9 points) and Aaron Thomas (11.8 points) are just under 49 percent from the field.
* Minutemen are 4-0 ATS in their last four neutral site games.
* Seminoles are 5-1 ATS in their last six vs. Atlantic 10.
* Under is 4-1 in Seminoles last five overall.
Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Kansas St. Wildcats (+6.5)
Game to be played at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas
The Zags are proficient both inside and outside and have scored 90 or more points five times while averaging 87.5 per game. Five of Gonzaga’s top six scorers are shooting better than 52 percent from the field. Gonzaga defeated Kansas State 68-52 in Seattle last season for its lone win in three all-time meetings with the Wildcats.
Kansas State senses an opportunity to bolster up the resume and seeks its sixth straight victory when it faces No. 15 Gonzaga on a neutral court in the Wichita Wildcat Classic. The Wildcats don’t have a true signature win yet this season and the powerful Bulldogs sure meet the qualifications of a quality victory. Freshman guard Marcus Foster has been an immediate hit and has scored in double digits in nine straight games while averaging a team-leading 14.4 points.
* Bulldogs are 0-4 ATS in their last four Saturday games.
* Over is 4-1 in Bulldogs last five neutral site games.
* Under is 10-1 in Wildcats last 11 overall.
Michigan State Spartans at Texas Longhorns (+3)
Michigan State pulled away for a 67-56 home win over a Texas team that struggled to a 16-18 record a year ago, but Spartans coach Tom Izzo expects a much-improved Longhorns team to await his squad in Austin. "It's funny, there's always teams that there's addition by subtraction," Izzo told reporters. "They had a couple guys that they got rid of - pretty talented guys, too, by the way - and this is a much better team than the one they had last year. Much better." The Spartans have been without star guard Gary Harris (ankle) for three of the past four games and his status is uncertain for Saturday, while Matt Costello (mononucleosis) remains sidelined indefinitely.
Texas has a shot to notch consecutive wins against ranked opponents for the first time in nearly three years when it hosts No. 5 Michigan State on Saturday. Coming off an 86-83 win at No. 18 North Carolina on Wednesday, the Longhorns are after their first back-to-back wins over top-25 teams since taking down No. 13 Missouri and No. 16 Texas A&M in January 2011.
* Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Spartans are 1-4-1 ATS in their last six road games.
* Over is 8-2 in Longhorns last 10 home games.
Rider Broncs at Villanova Wildcats (-20)
The Broncs shot 53.2 percent from the field and Zedric Sadler recorded 20 points and eight rebounds in last weekend's 79-58 victory over Wagner. Anthony Myles leads the team in scoring (18.7) and has finished in double figures in eight of his first nine games this season. Daniel Stewart tops the Broncs in rebounds (54), steals (12), blocks (eight) and free throws made (65).
No. 12 Villanova looks to keep its perfect record intact when it hosts Rider on Saturday. The Wildcats have reeled off 10 consecutive victories to begin the campaign, including two over ranked foes Kansas and Iowa, on their way to winning the Battle 4 Atlantis championship. Villanova is off to its best start in eight seasons, but coach Jay Wright is wary of complacency within his squad, saying: "You can start this way and if you don't get better you can slip, and if you slip you don't necessarily get it back."
* Wildcats are 7-1 ATS in their last eight home games.
* Over is 5-0 in Broncs last five overall.
* Under is 5-2 in Wildcats last seven home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
Fresno State Bulldogs at Florida Gators (-16.5)
Game to be played at the BB& Center in Sunrise, Florida
The Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back losses to Pac-12 members California and Utah, but received a bit of a boost when Tyler Johnson returned last game after missing the previous four with a right foot injury. Johnson is averaging 14 points, one of five players in double figures for Fresno State. If the Bulldogs hope to stay with Florida, they’ll need a better start from leading scorer Marvelle Harris, who missed his first eight shots in Saturday’s loss to California before finishing 5-for-18.
Florida can afford to exhale just a bit as the No. 17 Gators prepare to play Fresno State on Saturday afternoon at the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, Fla. Florida is coming off the toughest three-game stretch of the regular season and the Gators fared pretty well, beating No. 19 Kansas and No. 14 Memphis after falling to No. 10 Connecticut. Florida continues to get phenomenal production from 6-6 forward Casey Prather, who is averaging a team-high 18.7 points and has emerged as a front-runner for SEC Player of the Year.
* Under is 5-0 in Gators last five Saturday games.
* Bulldogs are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games.
* Gators are 1-4 ATS in their last five Saturday games.
Davidson Wildcats at North Carolina Tar Heels (-19.5)
Attempting to upset North Carolina becomes even more of an arduous task if both De'Mon Brooks (16.8 points, 6.4 rebounds) and Tom Droney (13.1 average) aren’t in uniform. Brooks was the Southern Conference Preseason Player of the Year and has missed six straight games with his ailment while Droney injured a foot against Niagara on Dec. 11 and missed an ensuing loss to Drexel.
North Carolina has guard Leslie McDonald back on the court but remains without P.J. Hairston, last season’s leading scorer, as the No. 18 Tar Heels enter Saturday’s matchup with visiting Davidson. Both players were suspended for receiving impermissible benefits and McDonald was reinstated prior to Wednesday’s loss to Texas and school officials are hoping to finalize Hairston’s situation within the week. The Tar Heels are looking to bounce back after a disappointing effort against the Longhorns.
* Wildcats are 0-4 ATS in their last four vs. Atlantic Coast.
* Under is 4-1 in Wildcats last five road games.
* Tar Heels are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games overall.
Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Missouri Tigers (-1.5)
While the Tigers are undefeated, the Illini have been dinged by two tough losses - 67-64 at Georgia Tech and 71-64 against Oregon - in games they led in the second half. Guard Joseph Bertrand (10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds) has played well against Missouri, including 19 points on 9-of-9 shooting as a sophomore, but Tracy Abrams (11.5 points, 3.4 assists) played sparingly against the Tigers as a freshman and was saddled with foul trouble last year.
Despite the lack of continuity - Missouri returned only one starter from last year - the Tigers are off to a great start in large part because of Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson (19.4 points, 3.9 assists). Clarkson and Brown are one of six sets of teammates in the nation averaging at least 19 points apiece. Missouri has been especially tough at the defensive end recently, holding West Virginia (85.1 points per game) and UCLA (90.6) a combined 35 points below their season averages in a pair of 80-71 wins before keeping Western Michigan 10.6 points under its average in a 66-60 victory Sunday.
* Under is 4-1 in Tigers last five overall.
* Fighting Illini are 2-9-1 ATS in their last 12 Saturday games.
* Fighting Illini are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four neutral site games.
Louisville Cardinals at Florida International Golden Panthers (+20)
The Cardinal, who are beginning a four-game road trip, won all five games of their recent homestand by margins of 31, 28, 39, 16 and 30 points. Jones (wrist) returned from a one-game absence against Missouri State and scored nine points in 19 minutes off the bench. Talented sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell, who had 17 points and eight rebounds against the Bears, has only one double-double in 11 games this season.
Florida International's scoring attack is explosive yet balanced, with former Cardinals forward Rakeem Buckles among four players averaging double figures. Buckles, who played his first three seasons for Louisville before sitting out last year per NCAA transfer rules, is fulfilling the promise that he never really showed with the Cardinals. Buckles is averaging 14.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks with season highs of 26 points, 17 rebounds and eight blocks. Murphy leads the team in scoring at 16.3 points and has surpassed 20 points in five of his last seven games.
* Under is 4-0 in Golden Panthers last four home games.
* Cardinals are 0-4 ATS in their last four games following a ATS win.
* Golden Panthers are 7-0 ATS in their last seven home games.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (-7)
Game to be played at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York
Garrick Sherman is the lone big man in the starting lineup for the Fighting Irish and he’s made big strides this season as well. The 6-11 center has more than doubled his scoring average to 14.3 and is doing the same with his rebounding (7.5). Of course, he’s also playing 10 minutes more a game, but his improvement can also be seen at the free throw line, where he’s off to a 75.5 percent start after shooting 66 percent last season and 36.7 as a sophomore at Michigan State in 2011-12.
Ohio State probably can’t afford a second straight sluggish effort Saturday when the No. 2 Buckeyes meet Notre Dame in their final game at the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York. Ohio State had 13 turnovers and seven assists, shot their lowest percentage in a month and had trouble keeping Delaware from getting to the rim Wednesday. The Buckeyes still won by double digits for the 11th time this season.
* Fighting Irish are 4-1 ATS in their last five vs. Big Ten.
* Over is 4-0 in Buckeyes last four neutral site games.
* Over is 5-1 in Fighting Irish last six neutral site games.
Southeast Missouri State Redhawks at Memphis Tigers (-19)
This game is the Redhawks' Super Bowl, as they have no other ranked opponents on their schedule. Southeast Missouri State has a two-headed scoring attack led by Jarekious Bradley and Tyler Stone, who combine to average more than 37 points and 16 rebounds. Bradley (19.5 points, 7.7 rebounds) is also the team's most consistent 3-point shooter at 40.7 percent, while Stone (18.1 points, 8.8 rebounds) leads the Redhawks with 1.5 blocks.
The Tigers, meanwhile, have scored at least 70 points in every game this year despite not shooting particularly well from the foul line or the 3-point arc. Even after the hard-fought loss to Florida, coach Josh Pastner feels pretty good about his team. "This was a high level game. It felt like a Sweet 16 game," Pastner said. "All you can ask for is to have the ball in your hand to tie or win the game and that's what we had and it didn't go our way, but give Florida credit. We'll grow from this and get better."
* Redhawks are 6-2 ATS in their last eight road games.
* Tigers are 8-1 ATS in their last nine home games.
* Under is 4-1 in Tigers last five overall.
McNeese State Cowboys at San Diego State Aztecs
The Cowboys have certainly become road weary. In the midst of a nine-game road swing, McNeese State hasn't played a home game since beating Louisiana College on Nov. 15. McNeese State is 0-6 on the road and is scoring 66.7 points a game which ranks 296th nationally.
Despite the absence of a pair of star forwards San Diego State embarrassed Southern Utah last time out. The 23rd-ranked Aztecs aim for their 44th consecutive win against non-conference opponents at home when they entertain McNeese State on Saturday. Xavier Thames, who scored 16 points for the Aztecs in their humbling 76-39 of Southern Utah leads the squad in scoring at 17.2 points.
* Under is 4-0 in Aztecs last four overall.
* Cowboys are 1-5 ATS in their last six non-conference games.
* Aztecs are 48-22-1 ATS in their last 71 Saturday games.
Brigham Young Cougars at Oregon Ducks (-7.5)
The Cougars boast an impressive backcourt, but their top four guards - Kyle Collinsworth, Matt Carlino, Tyler Haws and Frank Bartley IV - combined to shoot 9-for-42 from the field against Utah. Haws averages a team-high 22.3 points and has scored in double figures in 25 consecutive games. Freshman center Eric Mika, averaging 14.1 points and 6.4 points, recorded his second career double-double against Utah before being ejected for a flagrant foul midway through the second half.
Oregon remained unbeaten with a 91-63 win over UC Irvine on Tuesday in the season debut of point guard Dominic Artis and forward Ben Carter, who were each suspended for the first nine games for selling team apparel. The Ducks rank second in the nation at 89.3 points per game and have had at least four players with 10-plus points in each of the last seven games.
* Over is 9-1 in Ducks last 10 overall.
* Cougars are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall.
* Ducks are 8-1-2 ATS in their last 11 home games.
Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Colorado Buffaloes (+5.5)
The Cowboys haven't reached their average of 87.2 points - 11th in the country through games played Wednesday - in five games, but have handled slower paces well in winning four of them. Marcus Smart, a 6-4 sophomore who averages a team-best 18 points while contributing 4.8 rebounds and a team-high 3.8 assists, should be well-rested after scoring only eight points and taking five shots in 27 minutes against Delaware State.
The Buffaloes are leaving Colorado for the first time since their season-opening setback in Dallas after playing eight home games and road contests at Air Force and Colorado State. Sophomore Josh Scott, who averages 12.4 points and a team-best 8.6 rebounds, has provided a more physical presence down low after adding bulk to his 6-10 frame during the offseason and is the key to preventing Oklahoma State from driving the lane at will.
* Over is 6-2 in the last eight meetings.
* Underdog is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.
* Over is 5-1 in Buffaloes last six vs. Big 12.