Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

Saturday's Essentials

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Marquette (-3.5, 143) at Providence, 12 p.m. ET: The Friars led the first meeting by eight points at the break but were then outscored 54-35 in the second half and lost by 11. Sam Hauser scored 25 and Markus Howard added 24, so the Golden Eagles will look to sweep in order to stay a game up on Villanova for the Big East regular-season title. While Providence is 10-4 at Dunkin’ Donuts Center, it has dropped three of those games in league play, losing two of the last three as 5.5-point favorites against Georgetown and Xavier. Ed Cooley will likely look to slow down the Marquette offense, winning the battle of the boards and earning second chances to try and pull it out and take the Golden Eagles out of their rhythm. Alpha Diallo and Nate Watson must take care of business on the glass to try and produce an upset. The ‘under’ has connected in seven of the last nine Friars’ games.

Virginia (-5, 124) at Louisville, 12 p.m. ET: The UNC-Duke outcome impacted the Cavaliers, who enter Saturday’s action in a three-way tie atop the ACC (11-2) and are likely going to be favored in all of their regular-season games the rest of the way. They’ll play Louisville twice over their last five games and are heavily favored at the Yum! Center since the Cards seem to have splintered after squandering a huge second-half lead against Duke, losing 71-69. They’ve been shell-shocked since and come off a 25.9-percent shooting game at Syracuse in a 69-49 Wednesday night loss that became their fourth setback in six games. Louisville has missed 40 of its last 52 3-point attempts and has no shot here unless it gets things turned around in that department. Virginia is 11-1 outside Charlottesville, losing only to Duke by a bucket. It leads the country in points allowed per game (54.6 ppg). The ‘under’ has prevailed in six of the last eight Louisville games, including its last three.

Texas at Oklahoma (-4, 131), 12 p.m. ET: Longhorns’ leading scorer Kerwin Roach, Jr. has been suspended indefinitely due to a violation of team rules, so Shaka Smart will have to win on the road without one of his two senior leaders. Sophomore Jase Fabras and freshman Courtney Ramey will be tasked with getting the job done on the road as Texas looks to take advantage of fresh legs, having not played at all this week. The Sooners snapped a five-game losing streak last Saturday with a victory over TCU but have dropped their last four Big 12 home games, last winning on Jan. 12. The Longhorns swept last year’s regular-season meetings, beating star guard Trae Young as now-senior big man Dylan Osetkowski averaged 18 points per game. The ‘under’ has prevailed in three straight Sooners games.

Tennessee (-2, 153) at LSU, 12 p.m. ET: The Vols were crushed by Kentucky last weekend and struggled to a lackluster win over Vanderbilt mid-week, so the team that spent most of the month ranked No. 1 is in a bit of a tailspin as they visit Baton Rouge. For the Tigers, this will be their earliest start of the season, and it certainly works to Tennessee’s advantage that this one wasn’t flexed to primetime given that the locals would’ve likely been more, um, throaty. The Tigers will be looking to avoid consecutive home defeats after faltering against Florida, slipping to 12-2 at the Maravich Assembly Center. Tennessee is 6-1 on the road, losing last week at Rupp, and will look to impose its will on the boards to try and create separation. Despite that, all eyes will be on the point guard battle between LSU’s Tremont Waters and UT’s Jordan Bone, who are likely locked in a battle to earn All-SEC honors. (Note: LSU's Waters has been ruled out due to illness).

Auburn at Kentucky (-7, 143.5), 1:30 p.m. ET: With Reid Travis nursing an ankle injury, the Wildcats will be relying a little more on promising 6-foot-10 freshman EJ Montgomery. PJ Washington should also be a factor in small lineups, but the Tigers will certainly look to try and take advantage of the absence of UK’s most veteran interior presence as they come off their most complete performance in a dominant 79-56 victory over Arkansas which they controlled after just a few minutes. The Tigers have won two straight and five of seven to pull back above .500 in SEC play. Auburn knocked down 17 3-pointers in the win and has been all over the place in that department, so being able to get Bryce Brown, Jared Harper and Malik Dunbar going will be the key to producing an upset here. The ‘under’ is 5-0-1 in the last six Tigers’ games and 5-1 in the last six Wildcats’ games. The first meeting produced an 82-80 result on Jan. 19 as Kentucky overcame Brown shooting 6-for-7 from beyond the arc. Auburn went 13-for-30 from 3-point range, but freshmen Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro each scored 20 points to pull off the win at AU Arena.

Ohio State at Maryland (-5, 127), 2 p.m. ET: The Buckeyes snapped a two-game losing streak by taking down Northwestern 63-49 but haven’t been as reliable on the road, particularly in Big Ten play since they’re 2-4 outside Columbus. The Terps came into Value City Arena and rolled 75-61 behind 13 points and 15 boards from center Bruno Fernando. Ohio State shot 39 percent, missing 20 of 26 3-point attempts. Unless C.J. Jackson can help his teammates find a rhythm, a similar fate could await Ohio State since Maryland has been especially good at the Xfinity Center, coming in undefeated in Big Ten play and 13-2 overall with tight losses to Seton Hall and Virginia. Ohio State’s Jackson is dealing with a shoulder injury and a sore ankle, while backup forward Kyle Young is playing through a stress fracture in his leg. Getting quality minutes from him to help out the Wessons against Fernando and Jalen Smith will be a huge swinging point. The ‘under’ has prevailed in the each of the last four games for both teams and is on 8-0-2 run over Maryland’s last 10 games.

Iowa State (-1.5, 151) at TCU, 2 p.m. ET: The Horned Frogs have backed themselves into a corner with three straight losses and are now stuck trying to snap the streak against a formidable Cyclones squad coming off an upset loss. Both teams should be desperate for a victory in Fort Worth, where TCU is looking to pick up a sweep after winning the first meeting in Ames 92-83. The Frogs used a 22-2 first-half run to completely swing momentum and will be looking to take advantage of Iowa State’s struggles on the boards that helped doom it in its home loss to Baylor. Forward Kouat Noi returns to the lineup for TCU, adding another scorer the Cyclones must corral to the mix. The ‘over’ is on a 6-1-1 run in Iowa State games.

Florida State at North Carolina (-7.5, 161), 3:45 p.m. ET: The Tar Heels will try and build off Thursday’s big win over Duke by avoiding a second straight loss in Chapel Hill, which is where all of their ACC losses have been. The Seminoles have won eight consecutive games, seven of which have come by nine or more points. FSU beat North Carolina 81-80 in Tallahassee the last time these teams played, hanging on despite 28 points from Joel Berry. The key for the ‘Noles will be to avoid playing sloppily while matching the fast pace that the Heels typically employ. 7-foot-4 center Christ Koumadje has averaged 16.7 points and 10.3 rebounds over his last three games, the most productive stretch of his career, so his ability to stay on the floor will be crucial. UNC has won 16 consecutive games in which it has reached 75 points this season and have suffered all four of its losses over the past few months when they fail to reach that benchmark. They’ve scored at least 88 in four consecutive wins, but FSU has allowed over 80 only three times. The ‘under’ is on a 5-2 run in UNC games.

Duke (-5.5, 143) at Syracuse, 6 p.m. ET: The Blue Devils won’t have Zion Williamson available after his sneaker mishap resulted in a knee sprain, but disaster was averted. Mike Krzyzewski’s team will now have to survive on the road without their emotional leader and will face a tremendous atmosphere at the Carrier Dome, which will set a new attendance record. With Jim Boeheim coaching after his hit-and-run ordeal on Thursday night, the environment is going to be a sixth man for the Orange, so Coach K needs a big game from Tre Jones to limit turnovers and help control pace against the 2-3 zone. Syracuse is looking to sweep the season series after winning in Durham 95-91 in OT despite Williamson’s 35 points, 10 boards and four blocks. Jones was injured in the loss and played just six minutes, while RJ Barrett finished with 23 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists but shot just 4-for-17 from beyond the arc. Tyus Battle scored 32 points, one of five ‘Cuse players who reached double-figures. The ‘under’ is 6-2 in Syracuse’s last eight games, prevailing in three straight.

BYU at Gonzaga (-20, 157), 10:30 p.m. ET: The Bulldogs dominated the first meeting between these teams, rolling 93-63. The loss was the second-worst ever suffered by BYU at the Marriott Center in Provo, trailing only a 48-point loss to New Mexico way back in 1997. The Cougars look to get revenge and have won three of their last four visits into the new Kennel in Spokane, where they’re hoping that star forward Yoeli Childs can avoid foul trouble against Gonzaga’s dynamic frontcourt. Sharp-shooting wing TJ Haws has averaged 24.3 points and 5.7 rebounds over the last three games and also wrestled with foul trouble in the first meeting, finishing 0-for-2 from beyond the arc. The ‘Zags shot 59 percent in the blowout win and are a heavy favorite at home, having won every single one of their 16 matchups at the McCarthey Athletic Center, but they’re wary of a BYU squad that won all three meetings from ’15-’17. BYU blew a 14-point lead in falling at home to San Francisco on Thursday but hasn’t dropped consecutive games in 2019. Gonzaga has a 13-0 mark in West Coast Conference play, beating opponents by an average of 28 points per game.

Colorado at Washington (-8, 134), 10:30 p.m. ET: The Huskies have won consecutive games since finally losing in Pac-12 play and can clinch a share of the conference title by taking care of business against the Buffs. They’re perfect at home in Seattle this season and lead the league in point allowed (61.4 ppg), field-goal percentage defense (42.1), 3-pont percentage defense (30.6), blocks (5.4), steals (9.8) and turnovers forced (17.8), so you know where their bread is buttered. Washington’s zone defense has shined as second-year head coach Mike Hopkins has gotten the most out of an athletic group that is truly pesky along the perimeter. He’s yet to lose to Tad Boyle, winning all three meetings since taking over, including a 77-70 win in Boulder on Jan. 12. Star point guard McKinley Wright IV injured his shoulder in the first half of that game but has since returned, sparking the rest of his teammates to wins in five of six. While that first matchup this season went ‘over’ the posted total, eight of the last nine games involving Washington have all gone ‘under,’ including the last six in succession.

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

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