The No. 22 Kentucky Wildcats are not ranked highly in this week’s top 25, but don’t mistake the inconsistent Wildcats for not being able to claw down their opponents. Case-and-proof, Kentucky condemned Florida’s efficient defense to an 80-61 drubbing over the weekend, followed by a crushing 82-48 rout over Georgia on Tuesday night. At this rate, John Calipari’s Wildcats (18-6, 8-3 Southeastern Conference) will not only be ranked higher in the top 25, but they’ll be tough to unseat from their SEC title domination. As we speak, they are trailing LSU by a half-game margin in the conference, a big reality check to the many naysayers who’ve been speaking about Kentucky’s downfall this season.
To prove if they are indeed the real deal, the Wildcats will be traveling to Columbia this weekend to take on the dangerous-but-highly-underrated South Carolina Gamecocks (20-3, 7-3), who are sitting just half-a-game behind Kentucky in the SEC standings. Which of these two teams will be standing tallest in Saturday’s online sportsbook college basketball betting odds? Let’s find out, as we preview this mouthwatering NCAA basketball showdown below.
Is there a better pure scorer in college basketball right now than Jamal Murray? He’s now averaging 18.5 points. pic.twitter.com/AW1XGcWMev
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 10, 2016
How to Bet Kentucky vs. South Carolina Game and TV Information
When: Saturday, February 13, 12:00 pm ET
Where: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, South Carolina
Opening NCAAB Lines: TBA
Why Bet on Kentucky
The biggest X-factor in Kentucky’s game, especially in regards to winning, is the efficiency of Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis. When these two star players are firing hot, or at least one of them is playing well, the Cats can be virtually unstoppable. This was evident in Kentucky’s 19-point win over Florida, where Murray scored a game-high 35 points to lead his team to a resounding home win. Against Georgia, it was the same story as Murray—Kentucky’s leading scorer on the season with 18.5 PPG—scored 24 points, and Tyler Ulis—Kentucky’s leader in assists at 6.4 APG–added 14 and 8 assists after he’d posted a career-high 11 assists against Florida.
It therefore goes without saying that Murray and Ulis will need to have a big game if the Wildcats are to have a winning chance against the Gamecocks. Of course, a bit of some help will be needed from the defense. That should not be much a worry, given the way Kentucky has been fierce in defense recently, limiting Florida to just 61 points and then holding Georgia to a season- low 22 percent shooting and a measly 48 points on Tuesday night.
Why Bet on South Carolina
The Gamecocks, despite losing just three games this season, are still regarded by many as pace- setters in the SEC. That notion may, however, be changing soon, after they validated their credentials with an 81-78 win at the then No. 8 Texas A&M. Up next for the Gamecocks is a Wednesday clash against the SEC-leading LSU Tigers, followed by Saturday’s game against Kentucky. If the Gamecocks can win these two games, or at least one of them, then you can be rest-assured that every March Madness Bracketology expert will have South Carolina among the top seeds, with the Oddsmakers also likely to adjust the Gamecocks’ odds to win the SEC crown.
Two advantages stick out for South Carolina in its quest for a win against Kentucky. First, the Gamecocks are giving up just 68.2 PPG on the season and are grabbing 42.0 rebounds per game (7th-best in the nation), which should allow them to dominate the boards and neutralize Kentucky’s strong ability to capitalize on second-chance opportunities. Secondly, South Carolina is imperiously 16-0 at home this season, along with a stellar 11-2 ATS record in those home tilts. Against a Kentucky team that is 2-5 SU in its last 7 games on the road and 2-6 ATS in its last 8 road games (including losses in their last two road games against Kansas and Tennessee); it doesn’t look like the Wildcats will be walking out of the Colonial Life Arena with a win this weekend.
Final Betting Predictions and Picks
The Gamecocks ride on their flawless home win record to claim the win, possibly with a cover of the point spread. The game total most probably stays low for an UNDER, as the defenses come up big and none of the two teams scores above 70 points.
NCAAB Picks: South Carolina for SU, South Carolina for ATS, Total Stays UNDER.