Must-Bet Saturday NCAA Basketball Games Kentucky-Auburn, Syracuse-Duke

Must-Bet Saturday NCAA Basketball Games: Kentucky-Auburn, Syracuse-Duke

Written by on January 21, 2022

While there are two NFL Divisional Round playoff games on Saturday, there’s also a full slate of college basketball to wager on, and here’s a look at two of the best matchups. Check back for NCAAB odds.

Saturday’s college basketball games

Syracuse at #6 Duke

Tip off of noon ET on ESPN. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is the NCAA all-time wins leader – he’s retiring after this season – and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim is second.

The Orange (9-9) are an NCAA Tournament bubble team right now but come off a solid 91-78 home win over Clemson on Tuesday. Buddy Boeheim had a game-high 25 points, going 9-for-19 (.474) from the field and 4-for-9 (.444) from 3-point range. Joe Girard III had a near perfect game from distance, finishing 4-for-5 (.800) from beyond the arc and 6-for-9 (.667) from the field.

A 3-point basket from Buddy Boeheim in the final minutes of the first half put the Orange up 40-39 at the end of 20 minutes and marked the last lead change of the game. Buddy’s 25 points moved him up to a rank of 24th on Syracuse’s total career points list at 1,498 points. Jesse Edwards produced his second double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 boards.

“We definitely needed that to get some momentum going forward,” Buddy Boeheim said.

Duke (14-3) was upset 79-78 in overtime at Florida State on Tuesday. Duke came back from a nine-point deficit with under seven minutes left in the second half to force overtime, but a Wendell Moore Jr., attempt in the final seconds of OT was blocked. The overtime period featured seven lead changes, and Duke held a 78-77 lead with 36 seconds left thanks to a pair of free throws by freshman Paolo Banchero. But then FSU hit two free throws on its next possession and Moore’s potential winner was blocked.

Banchero led all scorers with 20 points and 12 rebounds on 6-of-11 shooting, to go with seven assists. It was Banchero’s eighth 20-point game, his fourth in a row and fifth in the last six games. Banchero has scored 20+ points in four straight games – the longest stretch by a Duke freshman since Vernon Carey Jr., scored 20+ in four straight games in the 2019-20 season. The double-double for Banchero was his third this season. Mark Williams scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting with seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Williams has blocked 21 over Duke’s last five games.

As Duke’s coach, Coach K is now 34-31 in overtime games and 39-24 in games decided by one point. Last season, Duke beat Syracuse 85-71 in the lone meeting.

#12 Kentucky at #2 Auburn

Tips at 1 p.m. ET on CBS. The winner here will have the upper hand to win the SEC regular-season title, although there’s a long way to go.

Kentucky (15-3) comes off a tough 64-58 win at a good Texas A&M team on Wednesday. The Aggies were dominant early and led by as many as 13 in front of a record crowd of 14,036. They had won eight straight games.

The 64 points scored were the fewest in a Kentucky victory since a 62-58 win over Houston in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. UK improved to 10-0 this season and 198-9 (.956) under John Calipari when keeping the opponent to 63 or fewer.  TAMU shot 39.4 percent from the field (26 of 66). UK is 9-0 this season and 218-24 (.901) under Calipari when opponents shoot 40% or less.  UK won the rebounding, 43-40, and is 15-1 this season when winning the boards.

With TAMU shooting 4.5% from 3-point range (1 of 22), it was Kentucky’s best 3-point field goal percentage defense ever in a game in which the opponent attempted at least 20 3-pointers.

Oscar Tshiebwe garnered eight points and 14 rebounds, and for the second game in a row, had a career-high-tying three steals. The nation’s leading rebounder has grabbed double-figure boards in all but two games this season. The win was No. 799 for Calipari.

Auburn (17-1) arguably should be No. 1 in the nation but is behind Gonzaga. Auburn was previously ranked a program-best No. 2 in both national polls in 1959 and 1999 (twice). For their season’s body of work, the Tigers earned 36 first-place votes in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll, while No. 1 Gonzaga received 25. It was just a four-point difference between first (1,486 points) and second (1,482 points) by the media voters

The Tigers crushed Georgia 83-60 on Wednesday for a 14th straight victory. Led by 15 from Walker Kessler, six different players scored in double figures. The Tigers shot 46 percent from the field, only turned it over eight times, and the 52 points in the first half were a season high. Wendell Green Jr. posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 assists. It was the 10th straight game in double figures for Green.

Auburn is off to a perfect 6-0 start in SEC play for only the second time in program history (1958-59). With Texas A&M’s loss to Kentucky on Wednesday, the Tigers are the lone unbeaten remaining in the conference standings. Saturday will be the first matchup between top-12 teams in the 12-year history of Auburn Arena.

Expert Picks

  • I expect Duke and Auburn to both win and cover.
 
 

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