USA Today Sports

Saturday's NCAAB Top 25 betting cheat sheet: Afternoon action

With only one college football game on Saturday's schedule, the attention swings to NCAA hoops. Saturday's slate is packed with marquee matchups, including some big-name showdowns between Top 25 programs. Here's a look at all the Top 25 betting action Saturday:

Arizona Wildcats at Michigan Wolverines (-2.5, 136.5)

Arizona didn’t miss a beat in its first game at No. 1 and the level of challenge gets raised a few notches when it visits No. 25 Michigan on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats hammered New Mexico State 74-48 on Wednesday, but they face a Michigan team that has won 20 straight games at home against non-conference opponents and had a week to prepare for them. The key battle could be inside between Arizona’s 6-9 freshman Aaron Gordon and 6-10 sophomore Mitch McGary of Michigan.

The Wolverines followed up a loss at Duke by beating Houston Baptist by 54 last Saturday, recording a season-high 26 assists. Michigan’s only two upperclassmen play up front and Arizona is young in the backcourt as well, except for leading scorer junior Nick Johnson. Michigan is averaging more than 80 points and the Wildcats have held six of 10 opponents under 60, beating San Diego State 69-60 in their only true road game.

TRENDS:

* Wildcats are 5-1 ATS in their last six vs. Big Ten.
* Wolverines are 6-2 ATS in their last eight home games.
* Under is 6-0 in Wildcats' last six overall.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Louisville Cardinals (-22.5, 135)

Coach Rick Pitino is waiting for that championship-level defense to appear at No. 4 Louisville, which hosts Western Kentucky on Saturday. The numbers look good - the Cardinals started the week leading the country in turnover margin, ranked fifth in steals and 11th in scoring defense at 60.3 points - but Pitino has gotten on his team more than once this year about playing sloppy defense. "We have got to just keep working on it. It will get better," Pitino said after a 113-74 win against Louisiana-Lafayette last week. "The guys we have can score, and we can teach them defense, and it will get better."

The Hilltoppers enter the 12th annual Billy Minardi Classic with decent defensive numbers too - holding teams to 62.4 points - but will be tested by a Louisville team averaging almost 87 points. Western Kentucky gets some help this week when transfers Chris Harrison-Docks (Butler) and Trency Jackson (Texas Tech) become eligible. "We'll have to figure out where we will use those guys and what situations they're going to help us the most, but no question about (it), they're going to help," coach Ray Harper said.

TRENDS:

* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Cardinals are 13-4 ATS in their last 17 home games.
* Over is 12-3 in Cardinals' last 15 overall.

Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Wisconsin Badgers (-15.5)


Ben Brust took his turn in the spotlight this week as No. 6 Wisconsin, which hosts Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, continued its hot start. In case anyone had forgotten about Brust in the Badgers' balanced attack, the senior hit his first six shots to get Wisconsin rolling Wednesday. "Ben is one of those guys that can get hot real quick and he can change the complexion of a whole game just because he's such a sharp shooter," sophomore Sam Dekker said after the win against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. "Ben is one of those guys that's not going to always pass the eye test for some people. But he's always one of those guys that's going to get it done day in and day out."

Before anyone misinterpreted his comments, Dekker said Brust works hard in practice and makes hustle plays in games that sometimes go unnoticed - but not by teammates. The Colonels have been opportunistic with turnovers while Wisconsin hasn't lost that many. Wisconsin started the week second in turnovers lost (8.9) while Eastern Kentucky - ranked second in steals at 11.1 - has scored 239 points of 182 turnovers in 10 games.

TRENDS:

* Colonels are 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games.
* Badgers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Under is 5-1 in Badgers' last siix overall.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (-13)

Marcus Smart has carried Oklahoma State into the top 10 while pushing himself up draft boards. Smart will need to be at his best Saturday when the ninth-ranked Cowboys face upset-minded Louisiana Tech in the All-College Classic at Oklahoma City. Smart and Markel Brown form one of the most dynamic scoring backcourts in the country and swingman Le’Bryan Nash offers a third scoring option for an Oklahoma State club that is among the leaders in the nation with a 90.4 scoring average.

The Bulldogs are no slouches in the scoring department and put up an average of 86.2 points behind their own solid backcourt of Raheem Appleby, Kenneth “Speedy” Smith and Alex Hamilton. “We are excited about the opportunity to play a really good team,” Louisiana Tech coach Michael White said of the Cowboys. “I think everyone in this locker room feels like we have a chance if we play great, despite what they are ranked.” Oklahoma State has been off since topping South Carolina on Dec. 6, and is beginning a stretch of three games in eight days.

TRENDS:

* Bulldogs are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
* Cowboys are 0-6 ATS in their last six neutral-site games.
* Under is 18-7-1 in Cowboys' last 26 non-conference games.

Tennessee Volunteers at Wichita State Shockers (-6)


Wichita State looks to go 10-0 for the first time in school history when it hosts Tennessee on Saturday in the first of two straight games against Southeastern Conference opponents. The eighth-ranked Shockers, who visit Alabama on Tuesday, won their ninth straight out of the gate with a 71-58 triumph over Oral Roberts last Saturday. It marked the eighth time that Wichita State won by double digits and the seventh time it held an opponent under 70 points.

The Shockers have limited opponents to an average of 60.3 points, which was tied for 11th in the country entering the week. They may be challenged by a Volunteers' squad that has found its offensive rhythm, averaging 77 points during a three-game win streak that includes runaway victories against Xavier and Wake Forest. Jarnell Stokes recorded his fourth straight double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds in an 84-63 win over Tennessee Tech last Saturday.

TRENDS:

* Volunteers are 12-5 ATS in their last 17 road games.
* Shockers are 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 non-conference games.
* Under is 53-25-1 in Volunteers' last 79 road games.

Northern Illinois Huskies at UMass Minutemen (-22.5)

The wins continue to pile up for No. 20 Massachusetts, which hosts Northern Illinois on Saturday, but votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll have yet to follow. Of the 10 unbeaten teams in the top 25, the Minutemen have the lowest ranking, but coach Derek Kellogg isn't all that concerned about it. "I just like that we are in the top 25, that UMass is thought of as one of those teams," said Kellogg. "We're getting some great publicity for the school. I think it's great for UMass."

The Huskies will go for their first win over a ranked team since 1973 and just their third in 31 all-time tries. Nebraska, which is the only common opponent between the two teams, defeated the Huskies 63-58 and lost to the Minutemen 96-90, both at home. Mark Montgomery's team averages only 69 points - nearly 16 fewer than the Minutemen - but ranks 20th in the nation in rebounding at 41.9 per game, just ahead of Massachusette's 41.6.

TRENDS:

* Huskies are 2-5 ATS in their last seven non-conference games.
* Minutemen are 6-0 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Under is 41-18 in Huskies' last 59 overall.

Michigan State Spartans at Oakland Golden Grizzlies (+16)


Fifth-ranked Michigan State has been forced to dwell on a 14-point home loss for 10 days but finally gets the chance to create a more positive memory when it faces in-state opponent Oakland on Saturday at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Spartans gave up their top spot in the rankings after a 79-65 loss to North Carolina, a game that revealed a potential weakness in the post as they were outscored 44-28 in the paint. Oakland has lost 25 consecutive games against Big Ten opponents, including a 81-54 drubbing at Indiana on Tuesday.

While the Spartans had a long layoff, they didn't have much time to work on correcting their mistakes against the Tar Heels because of exams. They have two games to prepare for another tough non-conference test at Texas next Saturday. "I can guarantee you this, I sure as hell ain't worried about Texas," coach Tom Izzo told reporters after the North Carolina game. "I'm worried about Michigan State. We didn't do the things that championship-caliber teams need to do in big games, and that is so disappointing." Michigan State has won all 11 meetings between the in-state foes.

TRENDS:

* Spartans are 1-3-1 ATS in their last five road games.
* Golden Grizzlies are 0-5 ATS in their last five vs. Big Ten.
* Over is 4-1 in Spartans' last five overall.

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