Kentucky Wildcats (17-3) vs Flordia Gators (12-8)
NCAA Basketball: Saturday, February 2, 2019, at 4:00 PM, Stephen O’Connell Center
Spread: Kentucky -2.5 Over/Under: 129.5
FREE ESPN NCAA Basketball Picks Kentucky Wildcats vs Florida Gators
On the road against the Florida Gators. The Kentucky Wildcats will travel down to Gainesville for their 2nd straight game on the road. The Florida Gators escaped their last game against Ole Miss in overtime, but they may not be able to escape against these Wildcats. Kentucky looks to continue their seven-game win streak and grab a top seed in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments.
The Kentucky Wildcats are arguably one of the hottest teams in the country. Alongside Tennessee and Duke, no other team in the Power-5 is winning games and dominating quite like the Wildcats. In what was an obvious trap game against Vanderbilt, which came after three wins against the top-25, they DOMINATED the Commodores. After a 45-15 point lead at halftime, the Wildcats never looked back. The final score was 87-52. Keldon Johnson and Reid Travis, the leading scorers for the Cats had ZERO points in the first half. Travis only finished with 1 point, Johnson had 11.
The Kentucky Wildcats are averaging 79.9PPG, on 48.52% shooting from the field, 36.2% from behind the arc, and they pull down 38.3RPG. Those numbers are good enough for 36th, 22nd, 75th, and 44th in the nation respectively. Rebounding and getting easy buckets at the hoop have been the recipe for offensive success for the Cats. This has allowed them to kick the ball out to shooters on the perimeter and find success there as well.
KenPom Ratings have Kentucky rated 9th overall. The balance between offense and defense has been key for the Wildcats. Their offense is 17th overall and their defense has risen to 9th in the nation. Since their win streak started the Wildcats have held their opponents to just 60PPG over the seven-game stretch. During that same time period, they have averaged over 75PPG. The closest margin of victory during that time came against Auburn on the road by a score of 82-80. Other than that the only team to get within single-digits was then #9 Kansas in Rupp, 71-63. Expect them to keep that defensive dominance in this game as well.
It was 76-73. 8 seconds to go. KeVaughn Allen dribbled up the court on the right side and drilled a three with confidence. Overtime. The Gators would go on to throw down a 7-0 run in extra time and end the game with a 90-86 victory. The rise of KeVaughn Allen has been essential to the Gator’s recent success. As the most talented player on the team, he needs to be the leader, and he has begun to fall into that role. The talented guard is averaging 13.1PPG and shooting 37.3% from three. The leading rebounder on the Gators is Kevarrius Hayes who pulls down 6.3 boards a game. I’m not sure if I can see the Florida big guys banging inside with the likes of PJ Washington, Reid Travis, Nick Richards, and EJ Montgomery. The talent and depth may be too much.
The Gators are rather poor on the offensive end of the court, but they do play hardnosed defense. On the season Florida is averaging 69.8PPG on a measly 42.4% from the field, 35.5% from three, and they pull in only 34.3RPG. These averages are only good enough for 211th, 221st, 99th, and 193rd in the country. The anemic offense has been only averaging 68PPG in the last seven games. Their opponents are averaging 66PPG in those same seven games. Their record is just 4-3 in that time.
KenPom is not forgiving to Florida’s offense either. The Gators are rated 31st overall. Their offense is just 89th, but their defense is rated 10th in the nation. While Florida has been able to bully lesser teams with their tough defense, ranked teams such as Florida State, Tennessee, and Mississippi State have been able to score 81, 78, and 71 points respectively. The Wildcats may just be too talented for this defense to have any effect. One point that many may be overlooking, while Florida is a hard venue normally, they aren’t nearly as good as in year’s past. The crowd won’t be as poor as the Vanderbilt crowd was against Kentucky, but I would be surprised if the Gator basketball fans show up in mass.
Cover the Spread 365 Betting Trends
ATS Last 10 (7-3)
Over/Under vs Conference (4-3)
ATS Last 10 (5-5)
Over/Under vs Conference (5-2)
FREE ESPN NCAA Basketball Prediction Florida Gators vs Kentucky Wildcats
The Florida Gators barely made it out of their last game with a victory. Had Ole Miss just fouled at the end of regulation, it may have been a loss. On top of that, the Gators simply cannot put up points. Kentucky has had no problem putting up points and their defense is even more elite, against more elite teams than Florida’s. I don’t expect them to keep up with the Wildcats in this one. Guys like PJ Washington, who is averaging 20 points a game in his last four games, and Reid Travis are going to eat in this game. 2.5 ain’t nothin’.