Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM

Saturday's Essentials

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Wisconsin at Michigan (-6.5, 120.5), 12 p.m. ET: The Badgers were able to slow down the Wolverines and started their current five-game winning streak with a 64-54 upset on Jan. 19 as a 3.5-point underdog and now look for a sweep to catch them in the Big Ten standings. John Beilein’s team has rebounded with wins in four of five and ranks second in the country in points allowed (57.3) Ethan Happ had 26 points,10 rebounds and seven assists in Wisconsin's 62-52 win and will again be the focal point of this one, so pace should slow to a crawl down the stretch. Michigan won last season's only meeting in Madison but was better equipped to deal with Happ given the presence of Mo Wagner and Duncan Robinson. Jon Teske, a 7-foot-1 junior, held his own against Happin the first meeting but hasn't scored in double-figures in three straight, shooting 8-for-21 from the field. The 'under' is 10-1-1 in these teams last six games combined, which includes coming in below the 126 the number was set at for the first meeting.

Kentucky (-3.5, 144) at Mississippi State, 1 p.m. ET: The Wildcats have played their way into consideration for a No. 1 seed thanks to a nine-game winning streak that has been a product of fantastic defense. John Calipari is grinning ear-to-ear about getting a team that lacks elite talent like Duke has to surrender 55 or fewer points in six of the last nine. The Bulldogs won at Ole Miss last weekend but took a step back in losing at home to LSU mid-week since losing to the 'Cats in Lexington 72-55. The 'over' has prevailed in the last four games and has come through in eight of 10, with the Kentucky game as one of the exceptions. Freshman Robert Woodard will have to play better for the Bulldogs to match Kentucky's physical nature around the rim with P.J. Washington and Reid Travis poised to do work inside against Reggie Perry and Aric Holman, who each fouled out in the first matchup. The Bulldogs shot just 39 percent in the loss but have averaged 85 points over the last four games.


Auburn at LSU (-2.5, 159.5), 2 p.m. ET: Auburn's Tigers have won three straight by double-digits, but all of those wins came at AU Arena. Getting out of Baton Rouge is going to be a chore since they've won only one of their last five road games. LSU rebounded from a one-point home loss to Arkansas by beating Mississippi State 92-88 and has now won 11 of 12, scoring 80 or more in nine of 10. They'll have to turn back an Auburn squad that will have point guard Jared Parker (ankle), forward Chuma Okeke (hip) and center Austin Wiley (leg) available despite nagging ailments. Auburn won last season's meeting 95-70 behind 21 points and 9 boards from guard Mustapha Heron, who is now at St. John's.





TCU at Iowa State (-10.5, 145), 2 p.m. ET: The Horned Frogs survived blowing a large early lead against Oklahoma State to escape with a 70-68 win, snapping a two-game skid. The season could go either way for the Horned Frogs, who have suffered each of their last three losses by double-digits. The spread forces you to decide whether to take the points at Hilton Coliseum, where they won last season as part of a sweep of the regular-season series. Alex Robinson is the type of floor general who can bring his teammates' level up a few notches enough to win at a place like Hilton Coliseum, so he'll have to be at his best for TCU to flirt with an upset.

Minnesota at Michigan State (-14, 143.5), 2 p.m. ET: Things have gone south for the Spartans, who have followed a reasonable loss at Purdue with unexpectedly shocking setbacks to Indiana and Illinois. With a difficult trip to Wisconsin up next, this home date with the Golden Gophers is a must-win. Senior Jordan Murphy comes off a 16-point, 19-rebound game against Wisconsin’s Happ and will give Nick Ward all he can handle. Michigan State won in Minneapolis 87-57 last season behind 27 points from current Grizzlies rookie standout Jaren Jackson, Jr. Since Joshua Langford is out for the season, it’s worth wondering whether Cassius Winston has enough talent around him to seriously challenge for a Big Ten title. We’ll have a clearer indication after this one.

Louisville at Florida State (-1, 142), 4 p.m. ET: The Seminoles have bounced back from a slump to win four straight and put itself back on track to reach the NCAA Tournament, while Chris Mack's Cards have won seven of eight following a win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. FSU has shot 46.3 percent from 3-point range to turne things around over the past four games, but closing out along the perimeter has been a strength for the 'Ville. FSU has only lost to Duke at home this season in a game it largely controlled, so taking care of business in Tallahassee has been a strength for this group. The Cardinals managed to win at the Tucker Center last year and have won their last four road games by an average of 21.3 points. .

Florida at Tennessee (-6.5, 132.5), 4 p.m. ET: The Vols will look to impose their will against the rival Gators as they try to set a new program record with an 18th consecutive win. Tennessee won 78-67 in Gainesville but actually trailed with six minutes remaining. Florida has lost seven straight games against teams ranked No. 1 and has lost 16 straight against Top-5 teams. Tennessee has won four stragiht by double-digits and have outscored opponents by 18.4 points per game. Grant Williams leads the SEC in scoring and ranks fifth in rebounding With Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone playing at a high level, Tennessee has averaged 86 points per game and will look to victimize a Gators squad that ranks first in the league in scoring defense (63.4).

Washington at Arizona State (-1, 141), 10 p.m. ET: The Huskies are off to a 10-0 start in Pac-12 play, but their historic run hasn’t kept bettors from backing the Sun Devils, who originally opened as an underdog but have been bet into favorite’s role. Romello White is questionable with an leg injury suffered in Thursday night’s upset loss to Washington State. With forward Taeshon Cherry out with a concussion, White’s availability is essential to deal with Noah Dickerson back in the lineup after an ankle issue and Hameir Wright expected back in the lineup after illness kept him out of Thursday’s win at Arizona. Washington is 11-3 in the last 14 meetings between these teams and got the better of things in the most recent matchup in Seattle last February. Arizona State may have been caught looking ahead to this one since it was shockingly blown out by the Cougars on Thursday night.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]

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