The final weekend of January features the SEC/Big 12 Challenge for men’s college basketball action. Saturday’s slate includes 20 ranked teams in action but the only Top 25 matchup, Also, while not facing a ranked team, the top team in the nation faces a tough home test on Sunday to cap the weekend of college hoops.
MyBookie has all the best bets and College Basketball Odds for the full slate of NCAA men’s basketball. Let’s take a closer look at Texas/Tennessee, Kansas/Kentucky, and Purdue/Michigan State.
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Vols to Defend Home Court
The premier game in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in terms of rankings is also the only game this weekend in which both teams are ranked. No. 4. Tennessee hosts No. 10 Texas in a game featuring a pair of 17-3 teams.
Texas has losses to two ranked teams in Illinois and Iowa State, and they also fell to Kansas State before the Wildcats entered the rankings. Meanwhile, Tennessee has lost to Kentucky, Arizona, and Colorado.
The Longhorns are led by guard Marcus Carr’s 17.6 ppg, and they score 80.5 ppg as a team. Texas shoots 35% from deep and have balanced scoring with four players averaging between 10.0 and 17.6 ppg.
Tennessee hangs their hat on defense, allowing just 53.7 ppg and grabbing nearly 40 rebounds per game. The Vols are among the best in the nation at forcing turnovers and with 10 steals per game. This game will be a contrast in styles, with Texas games averaging 146 ppg this season and Vols games averaging 127. Tennessee will look to grind it out, but they struggle at times to shoot the ball, especially so far this month. Texas can play defense as well, but the Vols will use the home-court atmosphere to pull off a narrow win.
Kansas Can Win On Road
The two winningest schools in college basketball history meet up Saturday night on ESPN as No. 9 Kansas travels to Rupp Arena to face Kentucky. The Jayhawks have lost three games in a row and are 16-4 as they prepare to face the 14-6 Wildcats. Last season, Kentucky won at Kansas in this challenge with a convincing 80-62 win.
The Jayhawks have struggled the last two weeks, but all three of their losses were to teams ranked in the top 17. They are 2-5 ATS this season against ranked teams and 3-4 straight up. Jalen Wilson ranks among the top scorers in a Power 5 conference at 21.4 ppg, and Gradey Dick shoots 43 percent from the 3-point range to average 15 ppg.
If Kentucky is going to win this game and get a fifth straight win, they will do so with Oscar Tshiebwe and Jacob Toppin inside. Tshiebwe averages 16.6 ppg and 14 rpg and he dominated Georgia last week with 37 points and 24 rebounds. The Wildcats will be hard-pressed to hold Kansas under 54 points like they did at Tennessee two weekends ago.
Kentucky has possibly turned things around the last two weeks, and they will return to the rankings with a win on Saturday. However, Kansas has the better team, and Bill Self squads are not used to losing four games in a row. Kansas is already battle-tested and won’t be intimidated by Rupp Arena. Look for the Jayhawks to cover in a low-scoring game.
Boilers Still on Top
The Purdue Boilermakers returned to the top of the polls this week, and their reward was a pair of games against the two Michigan-based teams in the Big Ten. Behind another double-double from 7-footer Zach Edey, Purdue won at Michigan 75-70 on Thursday, and now they host Michigan State on Sunday. The contest between the No. 1 Boilers (20-1, 9-1) and the unranked Spartans (14-7, 6-4) tips at 12:15 p.m. ET on CBS, leading into the AFC Championship Game.
Purdue has won seven in a row since losing at home to Rutgers on January 2. They have scored at least 71 points in four of those games while allowing 63 or less five times. In that stretch, they won at Michigan State 64-63 on January 16 when Edey scored in the lane with three seconds left.
The Spartans have been a roller coaster ride this season with wins at Wisconsin and against Rutgers when both were ranked. They’ve also lost by 13 at Indiana, by nine at Illinois, and by seven against Northwestern. Michigan State enters the Purdue game with a win as they beat Iowa on Thursday 63-61, but they haven’t won on the road in three weeks.
Edey dominated the Spartans in the first matchup with 32 points, 17 rebounds, and seven trips to the free-throw line. No one has had an answer for Edey this season as he averages 21.5 ppg, 13.2 rpg, and has 18 double-doubles on the season. Purdue will need to do a better job against Spartans guard Tyson Walker who had 30 points in the first matchup and averages 14.6 ppg on the season.
This should be a big win for the Boilers, as the Spartans have lost by at least nine in their last two BIG road games. Look for this one to be in that same range as Purdue wins by 10.
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