As one of the best non-conference slates this season is set to tip-off, the matchups are unbelievable. There are a lot of questions and opportunities to get signature tournament resume wins for both conferences. With games like South Carolina and Texas Tech to start the day and Kentucky at West Virginia to close the day, Saturday is bound to feel much like an NCAA tournament day rather than a regular season day. Without further ado, here are the matchups on Saturday.
Columbia: South Carolina plays host to 14th ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders, and defense is bound to be in full effect as these two teams clash. Frank Martin and Tech’s Chris Beard are close friends who have their respected teams making a run for the NCAA tournament come March. (11:00 ESPN 2)
Prediction: South Carolina will get a huge home win in a close game that comes down to the very closing seconds. 62-57 South Carolina
Gainesville: Baylor comes into a matchup with the Gators on a two-game losing skid. Saturday’s game in Gainesville will be no easy test for either team, but the hometown Gators have the advantage in the stat column, averaging well over 80 points per game. (11:00 Espn)
Crash the glass
Prediction: Florida 72-Baylor 66
Austin: Ole Miss travels to Texas to take on the Longhorns. The Rebels and Longhorns are coming into the matchup with a lot of questions regarding each team. One of the main problems both teams have seemed to have over the year is lack of consistency. With a matchup this big, one is likely to find a mojo heading into the grind of conference play. (1:00 Espn 2)
Crash the glass
Prediction: Texas 76-Ole Miss 65
Manhattan: The Georgia Bulldogs travel to a very hostile environment on Saturday. They travel to Kansas State to face a scary Wildcats team. Kansas State is riding a three-game Big 12 winning streak and looking to carry that momentum over to Saturday. (1:00 ESPNU)
Consistency on both sides of the court
Prediction: Kansas State 72-UGA 69
Tuscaloosa: Oklahoma and Alabama face off in the heart of Dixie on the hardwood. This game’s major storyline is the guard play that will be in full showing with Trae Young up against Alabama’s talented Colin Sexton. With over 50 NBA scouts and executives set to be in attendance this game is bound to be an instant classic. (1:15, ESPN)
Collin Sexton – 18 points per game, 3 rebounds
Trae Young – 30 points per game, 4.2 rebounds
Prediction: Alabama 88-Oklahoma 84
Ames: Tennessee travels to face a feisty Iowa State team. This game will have a sweet 16 type feel to it, and both teams are looking for a signature win to add to an already impressive tournament resume. (3:00, ESPNU)
Take the crowd out of it if you’re Tennessee
Control the boards
Prediction: Iowa State 75-Tennessee 74
Nashville: Can the Commodores finally find a way to win a huge game? That’s a question a lot of Vanderbilt fans have asked. With a tournament-bound team out of TCU coming to town it will be a tough test for Vanderbilt. (3:00, ESPN2)
Prediction: Vanderbilt 72-TCU 69
Lawrence: Texas A&M travels to Kansas in a must-win for the Aggies. The Aggies have fallen off the wagon a bit after climbing all the way to number five in the polls. The Aggies face a must-win situation at Kansas. (3:30, ESPN)
Pound the inside
Crash the glass
Prediction: Kansas 70-Texas A&M 55
Fayetteville: Arkansas plays host to Oklahoma State. Arkansas is looking to add to an already impressive tournament resume. 5:00, ESPN2)
Play your brand of basketball
Prediction: Arkansas 70-Oklahoma State 55
Morgantown: The game of day in college basketball. With college game day coming to town for Kentucky and West Virginia, this game has the potential of being an epic showdown between the young Wildcats and the Mountaineers. One thing is for certain – West Virginia will play bully ball and the young Cats will have to punch back to keep this game close. (6:00, ESPN)
Freshman punch back
Prediction: West Virginia 78-Kentucky 70
In conclusion today is bound to have some exciting matchups and I see both conferences splitting today’s matchups.
SEC beat writer
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