Mississippi State Bulldogs (14-3) vs Kentucky Wildcats (14-3)
NCAA Basketball: Tuesday, January 22, 2019, 7:00 pm, Rupp Arena
Spread: Kentucky -8
FREE ESPN NCAA Basketball Picks Mississippi State Bulldogs vs Kentucky Wildcats
Another top-25 game in the SEC, which just a few years ago would mean Kentucky and Florida were playing and that would be about it. Now, it is kinda a regular thing in the SEC. The Mississippi State Bulldogs come into Rupp Arena to take on the Kentucky Wildcats and both teams look to expand their tournament resume.
The Bulldogs are a formidable foe this season and have some quality wins, but also some rough losses. Those losses include a pretty bad loss to South Carolina that has been pretty disappointing this season. They have beaten the teams they need to beat outside of that one game and have not really dropped the ball anywhere else. The Bulldogs are led by Quinndary Weatherspoon who is a really good player. He puts up 16.6PPG, pulls down 5.8RPG, and shoots 83% from the free-throw line. Down low in the post, Aric Holman is dominating this season with 12.4PPG, 8.1RPG, and 2.2BPG while shooting 44% from the three-point line.
The Bulldogs are a pretty complete team that doesn’t necessarily rely on just one or two guys, but they have talent on the team that can take over a game. They could catch the Wildcats sleeping as they are stuck between the big game at Auburn and a huge top-10 game against Kansas on Saturday.
Mississippi State comes in at 21st overall in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings and boasts the 20th best offense and 53rd best defense in the country. They have performed well against a top-40 Strength of Schedule and have been a really quality team this season. As a team, they average 79PPG, on 48% from the field, 38.33% from three, and 36.76RPG. Those are good enough for 49th, 34th, 21st, and 96th in the country respectively. Three-point shooting could prove to be the key to this game for the Bulldogs. Kentucky has not done a great job this season at guarding the three, but their last three games have shown quite an improvement. If the Bulldogs start to hit their shots from outside and hold their own on the defensive end, they could come out of Lexington with an upset.
The Wildcats seem to be hitting their stride and starting to click as a team. Yes, they did almost blow a double-digit lead on the road against Auburn, but with every punch Auburn had they seemed to bounce back and have their own. The young freshmen are no longer freshmen in the eyes of John Calipari and they better part is they aren’t playing like freshmen. Auburn took a one-point lead with less than a minute to go, and while the Tigers celebrated a bit, UK took advantage. Tyler Herro ran down the court, drew the foul, and sunk two free-throws. The Cats held on to win and the rest is history.
Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro are the leading scorers on the team. They average 14.9PPG and 13.5PPG respectively and they pull down 5.1RPG and 4.2RPG respectively as well. Tyler Herro is shooting an insane 89.5% from the free throw line as well. The freshmen are starting to turn it up and will be integral to the Cats tournament chances.
Once again the Kentucky Wildcats are rated 13th overall in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings. Their offense is rated 21st and the defense 17th in the country. The big difference for the Cats since the New Year is their defense has taken a step up. Against Auburn, they had 7 steals swiped from seven different players. On the season Kentucky is averaging 80.24PPG, on 49.02% from the field, 34.93% from three, and 38RPG. Those averages place them 37th, 18th, 123rd, and 58th in the nation respectively. The Wildcats should be able to have a decent game inside the paint and that may open the floor for their shooters. Guys like Reid Travis, PJ Washinton, Nick Richards, and EJ Montgomery may overwhelm the Bulldogs inside. The big men down low are Kentucky’s key to victory. Control the rebounds and use their power down low to get easy points.
Cover the Spread 365 Betting Trends
Mississippi State Bulldogs #22
ATS Conference (1-3)
Kentucky Wildcats #8
ATS Conference (2-3)
The Wildcats are running high right now and seem to be on a roll. This is a game that they should win. They are at home and facing a lesser opponent. As long as John Calipari can get his young team to focus in on this game and not look forward to the Kansas game on Saturday they should be able to handle Mississippi State. The Wildcats depth and versatility allow them to shoot from outside and work the ball inside. I expect them to work hard inside and take advantage there. I don’t believe Mississippi State will be able to keep up.