College basketball picks, schedule: Baylor vs. Oklahoma and other Top 25 games Saturday

Saturday’s college basketball lineup is relatively light compared to a regular Saturday program in late January, as only 15 of the AP Top 25 will be in action. But there’s plenty to watch and bet on all day, starting with No. 6 Duke vs. Syracuse at 12 noon ET.

The Blue Devils will try to recover from Tuesday-evening’s loss in Florida State against an Orange squad capable of offensive explosions. But if that turns into a blowout, the day’s match will start at 1pm as No. 2 Auburn No. 12 Kentucky hosts on CBS.

It’s the only scheduled meeting this season between the SEC frontrunners and a few squads that have looked like national title contenders in recent weeks. A win would give the Tigers enough ammunition to become No. 1 in Monday’s polls, while a road win for the Wildcats would easily stand out as their best win of the season.

There are plenty of other interesting matchups on Saturday’s schedule too, and our experts have predictions for the top games here as the conference races heat up and the NCAA tournament field begins to form.

Opportunities through Caesars Sportsbook | All times Eastern

Featured game | Oklahoma Sooners vs. Baylor Bears

3 p.m. | ESPN+ (Try Free) — It is the second meeting of the month for these two teams after Baylor won 84-74 on January 4. The Sooners were within striking distance late in the first game and this time have home advantage. With Baylor point guard and top scorer James Akinjo doubtful after scoring 27 points in the first meeting, don’t be surprised if the Sooners get upset. Freshman coach Porter Moser is getting great reviews for what the Sooners look like, and Baylor has become surprisingly vulnerable since the last meeting. Prediction: Oklahoma 68, Baylor 66

Featured game | Colorado Buffaloes vs. UCLA Bruins

18:00 | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) — It is a replay of a game LSU won 79-67 two weeks ago, except that it will be played in Tennessee. Since then, the Tigers have lost two out of three, while the Volunteers have won two out of three. Tennessee is shooting a horrendous 29.9% of 3-point range in conference play so far, and LSU’s 3-point defense remains one of the best in the nation. It should be closer this time, but it’s hard to trust Tennessee’s offense now. Prediction: LSU 67, Tennessee 62

9 p.m. | Pac-12 Network, fuboTV (try for free) — The Bruins and Buffaloes clash in a rematch of UCLA’s 73-61 win on December 1 in Los Angeles. UCLA used a 23-9 lead in points sales in that game to make up the difference as CU was particularly shaky with the basketball in the first half. Those issues underscored the challenges of replacing McKinley Wright IV at the point guard, but it would be surprising if the Buffs struggled and coughed it up just as much during the rematch on their home floor. Neither team plays at a fast pace and neither is particularly reliant on three-pointers, meaning this could be a low-scoring clash decided in the final minutes. Forecast: UCLA 66, Colorado 62

Syracuse at number 6 Duke

Featured game | Duke Blue Devils vs. Syracuse Orange

afternoon | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) — Syracuse kicks off one of its best offensive games of the season on Tuesday, a 91-78 home win over Clemson. But the Orange is only 2-6 away from home. Coming from an overtime loss in the state of Florida, Duke should be inspired to restore and protect the basketball after a failure to do those things cost it a win against the Seminoles. Biggest looming is the status of Duke freshman guard Trevor Keels, who sustained a calf injury against FSU. When out or limited, Orange has enough offensive firepower to bring it close. Prediction: Duke 78, Syracuse 75

no. 12 Kentucky at No. 2 Auburn

13:00 | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) — Auburn Arena should be completely unhinged for this game as the Tigers are chasing a win that would capture the attention of the AP voters who narrowly prevented them from reaching No. 1 last week. The Kentucky attack has been making impressive forays lately, but the Auburn guards should be annoying enough to disrupt the flow of the Wildcats. On the inside, Walker Kessler’s height should prevent Oscar Tshiebwe from dominating. In the end, home advantage will make all the difference in a close Auburn win. Prediction: Auburn 76, Kentucky 71

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