Each week during the college basketball season, I will offer my picks and predicted final scores for the biggest games on Saturday as well as a handful of mid-major matchups. It's a bit early in the season to give projected point spreads -- there are still fairly drastic differences between the various sets of power ratings that are respected by the betting markets here in Las Vegas.
Instead, I've taken the liberty of giving out a predicted final score. This way, when the lines are released Friday evening, you'll have at least one Vegas pro's opinion as to what the final scores might look like.
There's a fairly unique dynamic for the first post-Christmas game, and it doesn't necessarily bode well for the Wildcats. John Calipari's players scattered across the country to spend time with their families over the holidays following their tighter-than-expected win over Belmont last Saturday. It was their first real break of any sort in months. For a squad with nine freshmen -- four of them starters -- the lack of experience in this particular situation has to be a concern. Senior Willie Cauley-Stein's quote speaks volumes: "Worst scheduling ever -- that's my opinion -- to be away from your teammates and coaches for three days before a really big game."