Weekend Preview: Breaking down the weekend’s games with picks against the spread

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SATURDAY’S SHOWDOWNS

*(NOTE: Lines are not posted for Saturday or Sunday games as of publication. Spreads referenced are via Kenpom.com)

No. 2 WEST VIRGINIA at No. 8 TEXAS TECH (-6), 2:00 p.m.

There will not be a game between two tougher teams all season long. What’s most fascinating to me about this matchup is that it is a battle between two of the nation’s five best turnover inducing teams, but they go about it in totally different ways. West Virginia presses full court. Texas Tech gets after you in the half court.

Either way, I’m not sure that this is going to be the prettiest game. It will be physical, there will be a lot of fouls called and even more fouls that go uncalled. But these just might be the two best teams in the Big 12 this season. So it will certainly be worth the watch.

  • PREDICTION: If you can get West Virginia (+6) I think you need to take West Virginia (+6). I don’t expect the spread to be that high when it is actually released. I think Texas Tech wins a close one. West Virginia (+6)

No. 25 CREIGHTON at No. 10 XAVIER (-2), 2:00 p.m.

Xavier is stuck in a rut. We went over that yesterday. Much of it has to do with the fact that Trevon Bluiett has not been right for a while, and he may end up facing off with Khyri Thomas on Saturday. That is not ideal. That said, the Musketeers have lost two in a row on the road. They’re coming back home in a game they really need to win if they want the pipe dream of unseating Villanova top the Big East to still be within reach.

  • PREDICTION: I think this is the game where the notoriously streaky Bluiett gets it going. Once he gets it going, the Musketeers are a totally different team. Xavier (-2)

No. 16 TCU at No. 9 OKLAHOMA (-6), 1:00 p.m.

Just two weeks ago, Trae Young played his first road game as a member of the Big 12 conference at TCU, going for 39 points and 14 assists as the Sooners erased an 11-point second half deficit to win in Fort Worth. I expect more of the same from Young. His efficiency numbers took a hit the last two games, thanks to matchups with West Virginia and Texas Tech, and this should be the game where he gets right.

  • PREDICTION: I think the Sooners win by double-digits. Oklahoma (-6)

WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO WATCH?

Other than the NFL Playoffs?

Quite a bit, actually …

  • MICHIGAN at No. 4 MICHIGAN STATE (-10), 12:00 p.m.: This in-state rivalry has gotten a lot more interesting now that Michigan is playing well and the Spartans are doing things like getting smoked by Ohio State and nearly losing to Rutgers at home. I think the Wolverines keep this close. Michigan (+10)
  • No. 5 PURDUE (-8) at MINNESOTA, 12:00 p.m.: The Golden Gophers are a train wreck right now. I just don’t see them keeping pace with a very good Purdue team. Purdue (-8)
  • OREGON at No. 17 ARIZONA (-9), 2:00 p.m.: Oregon is coming off of a win at Arizona State while Arizona is coming off of a scare at home against Oregon State. I think this is the game where the Wildcats wake-up and run Oregon out of Arizona. Arizona (-9)
  • No. 18 MIAMI at No. 19 CLEMSON (-4), 3:00 p.m.: Miami badly need to right the ship. They’ve struggled on the offensive end of the floor, but with Clemson coming off of a loss at N.C. State on Thursday, the Tigers are going to be trying to avoid a losing streak as well. Miami (+4)
  • No. 21 KENTUCKY (-5) at VANDERBILT, 4:00 p.m.: Vanderbilt has proven to be a tough out at home, and Kentucky hasn’t exactly been a world-beater this season. I think the actual line will be more than (-5), and I like Vandy to keep this close. Vandy (+5)
  • TEXAS A&M at No. 24 TENNESSEE (-5), 6:00 p.m.: Texas A&M will drop to 0-5 in the SEC if they lose this game and are getting to the point where the team with the best roster – when healthy – in the league is in danger of missing the Big Dance. I think the Aggies – who are a couple of fluky plays away from being 2-2 in conference – figure it out. Texas A&M (+5)