Saturday could be a day of separation in college basketball with plenty of drama possible as conference races heat up across the country.
In the Big 12, No. 8 Kansas heads to Ames, Iowa, to face No. 13 Iowa State, with both teams trailing by a game in the regular season race. In the ACC, league leader and No. 20 Clemson welcomes No. 23 Miami to South Carolina as it looks to hang tight to its half-game lead in the regular-season race. And in the SEC, conference frontrunner and No. 4 Alabama -- two games up in the standings -- is at LSU. With No. 2 Tennessee and No. 25 Auburn facing off in the afternoon and Texas A&M playing Georgia at night, it could have significant ramifications for the race moving forward.
So which teams will separate themselves from the pack and which league races will tighten up? Our experts have picks and predictions for the day's biggest games here.
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook | All times Eastern
6:30 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) -- North Carolina center Armando Bacot is difficult for everyone to defend, but he may prove to be particularly challenging for the Blue Devils to cover as it will be freshmen Kyle Filipowski and Dereck Lively tasked with bruising against him on the block. Much of UNC's roster knows firsthand what it's like to win inside Cameron Indoor Stadium and will be particularly motivated Saturday because of a poor showing against Pitt on Wednesday. This will be the first taste of college basketball's best rivalry for many of the Duke players, and it could be too big of a moment for a squad that has operated outside the national spotlight since a couple of big November games. Prediction: North Carolina +3 -- Cobb
Texas Tech at No. 11 Baylor
1 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) -- Texas Tech is coming off its first Big 12 victory of the season — a 23-point comeback win over Iowa State — and the confidence gained there should carry over. The Red Raiders played Baylor competitively in an 81-74 loss on Jan. 17 despite playing subpar defense and should be able to hang around in this game as well. Even during an 0-8 start to conference play, TTU lost six of those games by 10 or less. Baylor has just one double-digit victory against a league foe this season and isn't strong enough defensively to be trusted to win by such a large margin. Prediction: Texas Tech +8 -- David Cobb
No. 8 Kansas at No. 13 Iowa State
Noon | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) -- Iowa State's not lost at home yet but is coming off an epic meltdown in league play vs. Texas Tech in which it blew a 23-point second-half lead, marking its third loss in four games. But I think the Cyclones in this spot are set up for success. They nearly took down KU in Lawrence a few weeks ago and at home with the Cyclone faithful behind them inside Hilton Coliseum, I'm riding with Iowa State. Prediction: Iowa State +1.5 -- Boone
4 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) -- Indiana looked like the most significant non-Purdue force in the Big Ten before falling flat at Maryland earlier in the week. But I think the Hoosiers back at home will be up for the challenge as No. 1 Purdue rolls to town. There may be no stopping Zach Edey, but with Jalen Hood-Schifino making a star turn and Trayce Jackson-Davis playing like an All-American, I think IU can pull this upset off. Prediction: Indiana pick' em -- Boone
No. 7 Kansas State vs. No. 10 Texas
4 p.m. | ESPN2, fuboTV (Try for free) -- With a chance to take down the Big 12 leader and simultaneously grab a share of the conference lead, Kansas State at home has an excellent chance to re-establish itself as the top dog in the league. And inside the Octagon of Doom, I expect it will do precisely that. Prediction: Kansas State -1 -- Boone
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