If you were neglecting your college basketball handicapping while football was winding down, Saturday’s exciting Big 12/SEC Challenge should get you up to speed very quickly.
Several Dance-caliber teams will be in action, facing true litmus tests that will shed light on postseason readiness. You can park yourself on the couch for an all-day, all-night research project. Or, if you’ve been monitoring recent action, you can take your shots at your favorite local sportsbook.
With 14 teams in the SEC and only 10 in the Big 12, four SEC teams had to be left out. Those four will play each other in conference games Saturday, as Ole Miss visits Georgia (5:30 p.m., SEC Network) and Mississippi State travels to Oklahoma (2 p.m., ESPN2).
A quick look at Saturday’s interconference showdowns featuring ranked teams:
— No. 1 Baylor at Florida (8 p.m., ESPN)
If you watch only one game, this is it. Baylor knocked off Kansas in Lawrence and would love to do the same to Florida in Gainesville. That would surely set the Bears on a more solid path to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Though the Gators are unranked, they’re computer-rated as a round-of-32 team.
— No. 15 Kentucky at No. 18 Texas Tech (6 p.m., ESPN)
This is not quite the dream matchup it would have been a year ago. But pollsters still see this as basically a Sweet 16-caliber matchup. Both teams have been overpriced by oddsmakers this season. They’re each 8-10 ATS and are coming off non-covers Tuesday night.
— Tennessee at No. 3 Kansas (4 p.m., ESPN)
Tennessee is less likely to sparkle on the road. But Kansas could be unfocused after Tuesday night’s game-ending brawl with Kansas State.
— Missouri at No. 14 West Virginia (Noon, ESPN)
West Virginia has covered six of its last seven after obliterating Texas 97-59 on Monday night. If Mizzou can’t handle full-court pressure, another blowout could be at hand.
— Iowa State at No. 16 Auburn (Noon, ESPNU)
Erratic Auburn suffered recent blowout losses to Florida and Alabama. Maybe the Tigers were reading too many press clippings about how they were for real. Here’s a chance to make new headlines.