College basketball picks, schedule: Predictions for Tennessee vs. Arkansas and other big games on Saturday

Saturday’s college basketball schedule pairs well with the NCAA March Madness Men’s Bracket Preview airs at 12:30 p.m. on CBS. The first real installment means things are officially getting real. With just over three weeks until Draft Sunday, the picture for the NCAA Tournament is coming into focus, and a huge slate of games will bring us closer to sorting things out on the bubble and in various conference races.

The Big Ten is the power conference with the most uncertainty at the top, and one of the best matchups of the day features two of the many teams still in the league title mix as No. 19 Michigan State hosts No. 12 Illinois at 12 p.m. ET. But there will be compelling action throughout the day and into the night, when No. 3 Arizona hosts Oregon at 10 p.m. as the Ducks seek a massive midlife victory over the bubble.

In between, there will be countless other key games and big moments, including a top 25 showdown on CBS between No. 25 Alabama and No. 4 Kentucky. NFL, the ending Winter Olympics and the NBA on its All-Star break, the field belongs to college basketball.

Our experts have picks and predictions for the biggest matches of the day here.

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook | All times Eastern

Featured Game | Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Tennessee Volunteers

4 p.m. | ESPN2, fuboTV (Try for free) — Arkansas has won 10 of its last 11 and Tennessee has won eight of its last nine as both put on great form to earn double byes in the SEC tournament. This is the first of two meetings between the teams in the final stretch of the season and this one looks destined for a split. Arkansas should be able to mount a rowdy crowd and advantage in front-court athleticism for a narrow victory. Prediction: Arkansas 79, Tennessee 75

Featured Game | Virginia Tech Hokies vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

4 p.m. | ESPN2, fuboTV (Try for free) — You’d like to think UNC could come out and play with a vengeance after a horrific home loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. But Virginia Tech has quietly won six straight to resurrect its NCAA Tournament hopes and should have no problem scoring against the pitiful Tar Heels defense. Cassell Coliseum should provide plenty of backup as UNC are denied their first Quad 1 win. Prediction: Virginia Tech 77, North Carolina 73

Oregon at No. 3 Arizona

10 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) — A road win over Arizona would solve a lot of problems for Oregon, which suffered a brutal 81-57 ​​loss to Arizona State on Thursday after entering the game as the one of the “last four players”. But it’s hard to see a Ducks team that also lost by 14 at home to Cal last Saturday beat a legitimate national title contender on the road. The Wildcats have won 11 of their last 12 games, and no one in the Pac-12 has been within single digits of Arizona except UCLA. Prediction: Arizona 96, Oregon 71

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No. 12 Illinois at No. 19 Michigan State

Featured Game | Michigan State Spartans vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Noon | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) — This is a rematch of a game Illinois won 56-55 on Jan. 25 after fending off a late Spartans rally. In fact, it was rather a collapse for the Illini, who failed to score during the final 5:32 of the match. This time, Michigan State gets home-court advantage as both teams look to stop their recent slips and stay in the hunt for the Big Ten title. Illinois is just 2-3 in its last five road games and Michigan State should be inspired after a nasty loss at Penn State on Tuesday. Prediction: Michigan State 66, Illinois 63

Featured Game | Texas Longhorns vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

12:30 | ABC, fuboTV (Try for free) — Texas is trying to tie with Texas Tech in the league standings and get revenge for their 77-64 loss at Texas Tech on Feb. 1 as first-year coach Chris Beard looks to avoid getting swept away by his old school. The Red Raiders had the advantage of an absolutely wild home advantage in the first encounter and will realize just how much it was worth in the rematch. The Longhorns beat Kansas in their last home game and are expected to defend the field again. Prediction: Texas 67, Texas Tech 63

No. 25 Alabama at No. 4 Kentucky

Featured Game | Kentucky Wildcats vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

1 p.m. | CBS,, CBS Sports app (free) — It seems unlikely that Alabama will shoot just 10 percent from 3-pointers like they did in the first meeting, won 66-55 by Kentucky just two weeks ago. With TyTy Washington’s status also uncertain for the Wildcats, the Crimson Tide should give the UK a solid game. Look for Alabama to stay there until the end before the United Kingdom steals it to complete a sweep of the season. Prediction: Kentucky 79, Alabama 77

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