College basketball steps onto the big stage this weekend for its first full slate of action post-NFL season. And boy, it seems to have lucked into some favorable timing.
There are mid-major matchups with significant NCAA Tournament ramifications, major conference meetings with regular-season title stakes on the line and — as per usual this time of year — the all-important tourney bubble to monitor as March Madness comes into focus. Some teams will play their way onto the right side of it, while others may see theirs burst.
It adds an extra element of intrigue as you watch games this weekend. But of course, the most interesting element is the action behind the action. So to get you prepared for the big day ahead, we’ve got plays we like with picks straight up and against the spread from our staff below.
When: 12 p.m. | Where: Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio
TV: ESPN2 | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Indiana needs a win as it tries to play its way off the bubble and into the field. So a win over a top-5 Ohio State team would go a long ways. But it is coming off two tight wins over Iowa and Northwestern — the latter of which went to two overtimes on Wednesday — while Ohio State is coming off its fifth consecutive win. These teams aren’t in the same tier. I think the Hoosiers give it a good college try and get close, but the Buckeyes have too much juice to stumble here. Prediction: Ohio State 79, Indiana 75. — Kyle Boone
This will be the fifth consecutive game I’ve picked Kentucky on the moneyline, so yes, I might have a problem. But UK has sucked me in. It held second-half leads in three of those but just hasn’t quite closed games the way Calipari-coached clubs typically do. Still, it feels like it is due for a turning point, which a game against Auburn could be. Wildcats have length and talent in the backcourt to limit Tigers guard Sharife Cooper, who has been their catalyst on offense. It’s impossible to completely stop him but slowing him — as I think they’re capable of doing — may be just enough to snap the four-game skid. Prediction: Kentucky 71, Auburn 69. — Kyle Boone
When: 1 p.m. | Where: WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia
TV: ESPN+ | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Among non-Baylor Big 12 teams, none are playing better than West Virginia. It won by double figures this week over Texas Tech on Tuesday and by a dozen over Kansas last Saturday, with its shot-making and skill on full display. The last time OU and WVU met, OU got the better of the two, but that was after blowing a huge lead at home. This time WVU will be more prepared and I expect it starts this game the way it finished when it outscored the Sooners 51-37 in the second half last month. Prediction: West Virginia 81, Oklahoma 75. — Kyle Boone
When: 2:30 p.m. | Where: Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan
TV: Fox | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
NCAA Tournament hopes for Michigan State are all but completely stamped out, barring some miraculous turnaround. That has been the case for some time now. But still, Sparty has been competitive, with two consecutive wins over league opponents in the last week. Can it topple Iowa and its mighty offense? I have my doubts. This should nonetheless be plenty competitive in the Breslin Center as Tom Izzo rallies his troops for a big one. So I like MSU covering but Iowa straight up. Prediction: Iowa 80, Michigan State 76. — Kyle Boone
When: 5 p.m. | Where: CHI Heath Center Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska
TV: Fox | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Home court advantage has been almost nonexistent for Creighton this season, which does influence my play here, because this is a perfect trap spot for a top-5 team in what is normally a hostile environment. Not taking the bait though. Nova’s a force perfectly equipped to go blow for blow with the Bluejays in Omaha — and any team on the road, really. They are 4-1 ATS as road favorites this season. Prediction: Villanova 75, Creighton 70. — Kyle Boone
When: 6 p.m. | Where: John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Virginia has won the last six meetings against North Carolina by scoring 64, 56, 69, 71, 61 and 53 points. Lots of defense, offense — especially for UNC — at a minimal. Breaking that packline has been tough for the Tar Heels. If there’s a play in this one, I think betting the under is interesting. I also like UVA at home to keep its streak over Roy and Co. rolling. Prediction: Virginia 61, North Carolina 58. — Kyle Boone
So who wins every college basketball game today? And which underdogs pull off stunning upsets? Visit SportsLine now to get picks for every game, all from the unbiased model that simulates every game 10,000 times, and find out.