With ZumMallen on a cruise, I have to step in and at least appear to look like a sharp. Hopefully I fill in adequately, but not enough to make me look like a betting prophet. We don't want Zoomy to feel dispensable.
Saturday is filled with great games and there's plenty of opportunity to keep things exciting even if you have no allegiance to the teams playing.
That's why people bet, right?
As always, all times are EST and picks are underlined.
2pm: Central Florida @ UAB (-1)
The Golden Knights are coming off a huge win over Memphis, and now must travel to Birmingham to face a Blazers team that's lost three conference games by a total of nine points. Using the big win hangover property, combined with the fact that they're on the road, expect UCF to have their momentum halted today.
2pm ESPN: Missouri @ Baylor (-4.5)
The most anticipated game on Saturday's slate, this will be an excellent test to see how the guard-heavy Tigers handle one of the tallest and longest teams in the country. Oddly enough, it's actually the Bears that play faster, but they have the interior players to play a half court game. How this game plays out is really contingent on how smart Baylor plays. They can't settle for jumpers like they did against Kansas. Both clubs face issues, but I expect Scott Drew's club to bounce back comfortably today in Waco.
6pm: LSU (+14.5) @ Florida
Call it a hunch, but I don't think the Gators are going to run away with this one. The Tigers are 12th in the country in opponents points-per-possession, and Billy Donovan's kids, despite being one of the most efficient teams in the entire country, may just look to grind out a win this evening. Look for LSU to cover the double digit spread. You may also want to take the under at 137.5.
7pm: Marquette @ Providence (+7.5)
This is a tough one. On one hand you have a Marquette team that's 1-3 in only four true road games this season, and a Friars team that gets their leading scorer Vincent Council back after a one game suspension for an undisclosed reason. On the other hand, the Golden Eagles have covered four of their last five games and are frankly a more talented club. Vegas is baiting you here to jump on Marquette, but the Friars are tough enough to at least lose by less than eight points.
9pm ESPN: Louisville @ Pittsburgh (-3.5)
A series of unfortunate events has made this one of the worst College Gameday/primetime match-ups ever. Both teams are a mess, but the Panthers are well positioned to turn the corner tonight and move up from the Big East basement. Crafty guard Travon Woodall is reportedly set to return to the line-up after missing 11 games. His on-court impact could be minimal tonight, but knowing that one of the game's top point guards is back and healthy, paired with a likely rawkus atmosphere, should mean the Panthers comfortably pick up their first conference victory of the season.