College basketball picks, schedule: Baylor vs. Oregon and other top games Saturday

The last Saturday of the college basketball season before Christmas has brought fans plenty of treats to unwrap, even as COVID-19 cases are causing some disruptions in the sports world. The day’s headliner is a CBS Sports Classic showdown between No. 21 Kentucky and North Carolina, which was staged after both squads’ originally scheduled opponents, Ohio State and UCLA, had to drop out due to COVID-19 protocols.

Elsewhere in the country, major rivalry actions will take place in the state as No. 3 Purdue takes on Butler in Indianapolis at noon ET, while Western Kentucky will host Louisville at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS in another state-in-the-state showdown.

The teams from last season’s national title game will also be tested outside their home arena on Saturday, with No. 5 Gonzaga taking on Texas Tech in Phoenix and No. 1 Baylor putting his undefeated record on the line in Oregon. This will be the Bears’ first proper road race of the season, and it’s a chance for Oregon to break through with a statement win after a disappointing 6-5 start.

Here’s the full rundown of those all-important CBS Sports expert squad matchups.

All times Eastern

Featured game | Oregon Ducks vs. Baylor Bears

10 p.m. | ESPN2, fuboTV (Try for free) — Baylor racked up a 57-36 home win over Villanova on Sunday, arguably the most impressive feat by anyone in college basketball this season. With the win, the Bears became the number 1 in the country, but now they have to play a real road race for the first time. Oregon has been a huge disappointment, but the Ducks can score and should get enough of their home crowd to stay in this game. Prediction: Baylor 66, Oregon 59

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No. 3 Purdue vs. Butler (Indianapolis)

Featured game | Butler Bulldogs vs. Purdue Boilermakers

12 o’clock | Fox, fuboTV (Try for free) — Butler is 7-3 but is a double-digit underdog as it lost games to Michigan State and Houston by 21 and 18 points. However, the Bulldogs have since had a four-game winning streak, including a 66-62 overtime win in Oklahoma last Saturday. The Bulldogs have several seniors playing big minutes, and their recent improvement suggests they can stay close to a Purdue team that has looked sadly mortal since it briefly ranked No. 1 in the polls after an 8-0 start. Prediction: Purdue 74, Butler 68

Featured game | Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

13:00 | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) — Texas Tech delivered one of the best defense attempts of the season by any team in a 57-52 win over Tennessee at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 7. Facing Gonzaga, a completely different dynamic will emerge for the Red Raiders as the Bulldogs’ twin towers, Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren, will test the Red Raiders’ front lines. It’s been nearly two weeks since Gonzaga lost to Alabama in Seattle, and rest assured that Coach Mark Few will have his time on a much higher level as the Bulldogs play their final regular season game against a power conference opponent. Prediction: Gonzaga 86, Texas Tech 76

Featured game | Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Louisville Cardinals

3 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) — Louisville lost its only real road race to date at Michigan State on Dec. 1, and this environment may be even more hostile considering it’s an in-state opponent. The Cardinals are on the offensive and WKU kept Ole Miss just 48 points in a stunning win. The Hilltoppers should drive that momentum to an emotional victory just over a week after tornadoes wreaked havoc in their part of the state. Prediction: Western Kentucky 65, Louisville 64

Featured game | Kentucky Wildcats vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

5:30 pm | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) — Expect Kentucky to play with a bit of desperation in this spot as the Wildcats try to take their first Quad 1 win of the season after a terrible shooting performance against Notre Dame in a road loss last week. UNC has been one of the best outdoor shooting teams in the country so far this season, but the Tar Heels are still a work in progress defensively. If the Wildcats can get a few shots from the outside and master the attacking glass, they can get some much-needed quality gain. Forecast: Kentucky 80, UNC 75

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