#19 LSU Tigers (19-4) vs #5 Kentucky Wildcats (20-3)
NCAA Basketball: Tuesday, February 12, 2019, at 7:00 PM, Rupp Arena
Spread: Kentucky -8.5 Over/Under: 150
FREE ESPN Basketball Picks #19 LSU Tigers vs #5 Kentucky Wildcats
The SEC is getting interesting down the home stretch. Right now, there are three teams that can honestly say they are still in the running for the SEC Regular Season Championship. Tennessee, LSU, and Kentucky all have a legit claim to that title at this point. This game will act as a separator between these teams and should be a really good game between two really good teams.
The Tigers have won a lot of games this season, especially in the SEC. They only have one loss on the year in conference play so far, but the schedule hasn’t been too tough. The Tigers have really been blessed with an easier conference schedule than in seasons of the past. They only play Mississippi State, Kentucky, and Tennessee one time each. Those three teams have to play each other twice this season. While LSU has won a lot of games, they haven’t blown anyone out in conference play. They have four double-digit wins in conference play and have won four games by six points or less. Their only loss in the SEC was at home against Arkansas.
Tremont Waters is LSU’s best player by far. His ability on offense is elite, and he is probably a top-5 player in the SEC. The undersized guard averages 15.7PPG, 3.2RPG, and 6.1APG. His turnovers are concerning at 3.8 per game, but his 3STLPG helps make up for that. Naz Reid is a monster in the pain and will look to try and bully Reid Travis and PJ Washington and anyone else who gets in his way. He averages 13.9PPG and pulls down 6.2RPG. He is also shooting 36.8% from three which cannot be overlooked. These two are LSU’s keys to success.
As a team, LSU averages 83.35PPG, on 47.09% from the field, 32.73% from beyond the arc, and they pull down 38.39RPG. Those averages are good enough for 16th, 47th, 208th, and 37th in the nation respectively. The Wildcats cannot let this game get into a scoring battle, but LSU is going to want to run and use their athleticism in this game. KenPom has placed LSU at 21st in the nation, 16th in offensive efficiency and 52nd in defensive efficiency. Their defense has been lacking and they have allowed teams to score a lot of points.
The Kentucky Wildcats have been rolling this season. They have won 10 straight games and want to extend that to 11. The emergence of PJ Washington has to be the biggest story of the last six or seven games. Over the last five games, PJ is averaging 20.8PPG and pulling down 9RPG. He has bullied big guys, guards, and John Calipari thinks that he can be the best player in the country, and he has been playing like it. PJ’s play has been so good that he went from the 4th leading scorer on the team and is now THE leading scorer. 14.2PPG on 8RPG and the most dangerous thing about PJ…he shoots 44.9% from THREE!
The keys to success for the Wildcats are going to be Keldon Johnson and the backup big guys. Keldon has been good. Not great, but good. The thing is, Keldon Johnson should be playing great, he is a projected top-10 pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Keldon should be able to rebound between 6-10 boards a game and put up 15-20PPG. Outside of him, Nick Richards and/or EJ Montgomery will be essential to the success of this team against Naz Reid. The athleticism and energy have to be matched from the long and athletic UK big men. Look for them to get decent minutes.
The Wildcats average 78.7PPG, on 47.8% from the field, 35.68% from three, and 39.04RPG. Those averages are good enough for 43rd, 29th, 93rd, and 28th in the nation respectively. Their offense has improved steadily and is coming along, but their defense is what has given them these 10 straight wins. Kentucky is rated 7th in the KenPom ratings, with the 17th most efficient offense and 8th most efficient defense in the country. Once again, defense, defense, defense. The Wildcats have held three teams in conference play under 50 points and their opponents are averaging just 56.5PPG over the last six games.
Cover the Spread 365 Betting Trends
#19 LSU Tigers
ATS Last 10 (7-2-1)
Over/Under Last 10 (7-3)
LSU SU (12-1)
#5 Kentucky Wildcats
ATS Last 5 (5-0)
The Total has gone UNDER in 5 of Kentucky’s last 6 games
Kentucky is 3-7 ATS in last 10 games against LSU
FREE ESPN NCAA Basketball Pick #5 Kentucky Wildcats vs #19 LSU Tigers
This is going to be a bruiser of a game. The Wildcats are starting to get all of the pieces together. LSU has been playing their best ball in years. They have not gone up against a team of Kentucky’s caliber since they lost to current #9 Houston back on December 12th. They have improved, but they have really only beaten up on the lower hanging fruit in the SEC. Against teams like Auburn, Mississippi State, and even Arkansas they have struggled to win games. But they have been winning games. Kentucky’s defense is elite and LSU’s offense is top-15 in the country. I’ll take the defense, Kentucky is going to cover this game and have a statement win over LSU.