There will be a new No. 1 team in the college basketball polls on Monday as top-ranked Baylor was shocked earlier this week by Texas Tech. Here’s a look at three excellent matchups on Saturday and check back for NCAAB odds.
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#22 Tennessee at #18 Kentucky
Pair of SEC contenders and maybe features the best player in the nation in Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe. The West Virginia transfer leads the country in rebounds per game (15.1), offensive rebounds per game (5.3) and defensive rebounding percentage (36.0). He also leads the Wildcats in scoring with 17.0 points per game and ranks second nationally with 12 double-doubles. The Congo native has recorded four 20-rebound performances. No other player in the county has more than one.
Tshiebwe is looking to become the first Division I player to average at least 15.0 points per game and at least 15.0 rebounds per game since Drake’s Lewis Lloyd and Alcorn State’s Larry Smith each did during the 1979-80 season.
Saturday marks Tennessee’s 15th meeting with Kentucky since Rick Barnes arrived in Knoxville prior to the 2015-16 season. The Vols have posted an 8-6 record against the Wildcats during that stretch, including winning their last two games at Rupp Arena.
Tennessee trails the all-time series with Kentucky, 157-75, dating to 1910. The Wildcats have a 91-19 edge when the series is played in Lexington, but Tennessee has won three of the last four meetings at Rupp Arena, including each of the last two.
NC State at #8 Duke
Duke was without Coach Mike Krzyzewski on Tuesday for a big game at Wake Forest due to a non-COVID illness – not clear yet if Coach K will be back by Saturday or if Jon Scheyer will run the team again. Scheyer will be the full-time coach after this season. The loss was Wake Forest’s first at home this season (10-1) where it was averaging 82.4 points. The 64 points marked a season low at home for Wake.
Freshman Paolo Banchero finished with a team-high 24 points with five rebounds to lead Duke. He might be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Freshman AJ Griffin made his first career start and scored a career-high 22 points on 8-of-11 from the field, 3-of-5 from three-point range with four rebounds in a career-high 36 minutes. Over Griffin’s last seven games, he is shooting 32-of-51 (.624) from the field, 13-of-26 (.500) from three-point range and averaging 13.1 points in that span.
NC State comes off an upset win at Louisville. Freshman Terquavion Smith led NC State with 24 points, hitting 9-of-13 field goals, including 6-of-9 from long distance. NC State shot a season-high 56.1 percent from the field. The Wolfpack have won seven of their last eight ACC road games dating to last season. This is the only scheduled meeting between NC State and Duke this year.
#21 Texas at #15 Iowa State
First of two meetings between Big 12 rivals with the Horns hosting ISU on Feb. 5. Texas was impressive Tuesday in a 66-52 win over Oklahoma. Senior Andrew Jones posted a season-high 22 points (7-15 FG, 6-7 FT) and added four steals. Jones topped the 20-point mark for the first time this year and 12th time in his collegiate career. Texas tallied 11 steals during Tuesday’s win. UT has reached double digits in steals in nine of their first 16 contests and is averaging 9.1 steals per game this season.
The Longhorns sport a perfect 13-0 mark this year when holding their opponent below 60 points. Texas leads the nation in scoring defense (53.0 ppg) through games of Jan. 12.
Iowa State lost a thriller at No. 9 Kansas on Tuesday, 62-61 as KU’s Dajuan Harris hit a driving layup with 8 seconds left. There were four lead changes in the final 38 seconds, and the Jayhawks survived when Iowa State’s Gabe Kalscheur missed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
Saturday’s contest marks the 45th meeting between Texas and Iowa State. UT owns a 26-18 advantage in the all-time series. Texas has won four of the last five, eight of the last 10 and 20 of the last 30 meetings between the two teams (dating back to the start of the 2005-06 season).
The Longhorns swept the season series last year. Texas claimed a 78-72 win in Austin (Jan. 5) and followed with an 81-67 victory in Ames (March 2). Iowa State is a lot better this year, though.
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