CBB Saturday Plays: Run With Gonzaga & Purdue Overs

The Saturday college basketball slate is absolutely loaded.

The 12-hour madness begins with a few intriguing in-state clashes in Indianapolis and Nashville and finishes with a marquee clash between Baylor and Oregon.

Purdue, Gonzaga, Tennessee and Memphis are among the top programs in action off the bat on Saturday and I have plays for all of those games.

Below is a look at my card for the early games. The late afternoon and night plays will be added soon.

Saturday CBB Plays

Overall Record: 58-67

Butler vs. Purdue (Over 132.5) (Noon ET, Fox)

The Saturday slate opens with the quintessential clash of styles.

Purdue loves to get up and down the floor. The Boilermakers rank first in adjusted efficiency and third in effective field-goal percentage on KenPom. They are third in Division 1 behind Arizona and Cornell in points per game.

Butler enjoys a much slower pace, but the Bulldogs could be drawn out of that at the Crossroads Classic. The Bulldogs rank 345th in adjusted tempo.

Purdue is the better team and it should dictate the tempo. Butler is going to have to score to either stay within the 15.5-point spread, or pull off the unlikely upset.

Tennessee vs. Memphis (+5) (Noon ET, ESPN2)

I'm willing to buy some stock in Memphis after its win over Alabama on Tuesday.

The Tigers either turned a corner or used the Bama game as a one-off chance to prove how talented they are. My money is on the former and that Memphis is ready to surge back into the Top 25.

Tennessee is a difficult opponent for Penny Hardaway's team, but it can has the scorers in its lineup to keep pace with the Vols in Nashville. Both teams average over 77 points per game.

I'm mostly riding Memphis' potential momentum here, but I also believe we will see a close game between the top two schools in Tennessee.

Gonzaga vs. Texas Tech (Over 147) (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Rarely do we say that Gonzaga needs to make a statement, but Saturday's game against Texas Tech has that type of feel.

The Zags suffered defeats to Duke and Alabama in their last two major nonconference games. Those losses have washed away the wins over Texas and UCLA in our minds.

Gonzaga can flip its public perception with a high-scoring performance in Phoenix against the Red Raiders.

Mark Few's team is first in two-point percentage, second in adjusted efficiency and 21st in adjusted tempo on KenPom. Chet Holmgren and Co. will try to push the pace early and that could lend itself to a game close to the 80s.

Saint Francis (PA) at Illinois (Over 149.5) (1 p.m. ET, BTN)

Saint Francis (PA) is undefeated to the over and Illinois is 6-0 to the over in its last six games.

What more confidence could you want for an over bet?

Both teams average over 78 points per game. Saint Francis' 74.3 points allowed per game lends itself to a lot of high-scoring games and that should be something Illinois takes advantage of on its home court.

Tennessee Tech at Wright State (Under 146.5) (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

I faded Wright State as a home favorite earlier in the week and I was tempted to do the same today, but I'm going with a different angle for the 2-7 Raiders.

Wright State is 345th in three-point percentage on KenPom and Tennessee Tech is 318th. Both teams give up over 72 points per game, but it is hard to say the over will hit with such porous three-point numbers from both mid-major sides.

Austin Peay (+14.5) at Vanderbilt (2:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

Vanderbilt needs a win in the worst way.

The Commodores enter Saturday on a three-game losing streak, but even if they beat Austin Peay, there is no guarantee it will cover the large spread.

Austin Peay covered in its last two instances as a double-digit underdog and it stayed within single digits in three of its last four away games.

If Vanderbilt was playing better, I'd go with the SEC team here, but there hasn't been much to trust with it lately.

Marquette at Xavier (Under 151) (4 p.m. ET, FS1)

Xavier's defense is one of the better units in the country.

The Musketeers give up 60.4 points per game. The only reason their totals have been going over is because they were set in the mid 130s.

There's no way Xavier and Marquette get close to 151 points on Saturday. The Big East opener for both teams should be a cagey, defensive-first affair that may have more offense in the second half.

Xavier has the better defensive numbers, but Marquette gives up 69.5 points per game and ranks in the top 70 in defensive adjusted efficiency on KenPom.

USC (-8.5) vs. Georgia Tech (4 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

USC puts its undefeated record on the line in Phoenix against Georgia Tech.

The Trojans held their last four opponents under the 70-point mark and that should be the goal for them to cover on a neutral floor.

USC faces a tough task against Michael Devoe, who is the third-best scorer in Division 1, but Georgia Tech does not have much support around him.

If the Trojans contain Devoe, they should be able to pull away and move to 12-0 ahead of one final nonconference test versus Oklahoma State on Tuesday.

Northern Iowa at Marshall (-2.5) (4 p.m. ET, Stadium)

Marshall ranks second on KenPom in adjusted tempo.

The Thundering Herd average 81.5 points per game, which is 10 points higher than Northern Iowa.

Marshall is 6-1 straight up in its home gym and it has a significant edge in two-point shooting on Saturday. Marshall ranks 30th in offensive two-point percentage and Northern Iowa is 268th in two-point defense on KenPom.

Buffalo vs. Canisius (Over 153.5) (5 p.m. ET)

I'm back at it with Buffalovers.

Buffalo had a week off between its last game and Saturday's clash with Canisius, so it should be rested for what is expected to be an easy win.

Canisius had the under hit in its last four games, but that's not the data point I'm using for the over. Canisius gave up 89 points to Cornell on November 30. Cornell is second in Division 1 in points per game. Buffalo is 13th.

Canisius could struggle with another fast-paced offense on Saturday and Buffalo should have its way on the offensive end.

Kentucky vs. North Carolina (Over 144.5) (5:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

North Carolina and Kentucky were put together just a few days ago after UCLA and Ohio State were shut down by COVID-19.

The lone game at the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas should have plenty of points. Both teams rank inside the Top 20 in offensive adjusted efficiency and both sides average over 80 points per game.

We should be in for a fun up-and-down affair between two of the highest-profile programs in the country.

Cal Baptist at Arizona (Over 157.5) (6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

Arizona is an over machine.

The undefeated Wildcats are 5-0 to the over in their last five games and 8-2 to the over overall.

Arizona just put up 101 points on Northern Colorado on Wednesday and the same result could be in play against Cal Baptist.

If you watch this game, keep an eye on Cal Baptist guard Taran Armstrong. He is averaging 12 points, 8.3 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game.

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