Auburn Tigers (29-9) vs Kentucky Wildcats (30-6)
NCAA Basketball: Sunday, March 31, 2019, at 2:20 PM EST, Sprint Center
Line: Spread- Kentucky -4.5, Over/Under- 141.5, Moneyline- Auburn +185 Kentucky -200
March Madness Pick Auburn Tigers vs Kentucky Wildcats
This has been a pretty chalky tournament. The favorites have won over and over again, but Auburn put a little wrinkle in that narrative. The 5 seed in the Midwest region has lit up teams like Kansas and North Carolina. Kentucky has won two very close games. One against the 2nd best offense in the country in Wofford, and another against the best defense in the country in Houston. Now, the SEC rivals will face one another for a third time this season under completely different circumstances than the first two games.
This year’s Auburn Tigers season has been crazy. They were a preseason top-15 team, fell out of the top-25 all together, and then went on a run to win the SEC Tournament Championship. They lost Austin Wiley, got him back, had Okeke emerge as a very good player, lost him to injury last night against North Carolina, and now find themselves in the Elite 8. Wow! That’s all you can say. Their high-powered offense found a way to bounce back this season. So far in this tournament, they have won games by an average of 10 points but only won their first-round game by one. They ran Kansas off the floor by 14 points and beat one seeded North Carolina by 17. They are really dangerous going forward and could beat anyone at any time. Not to mention they embarrassed Tennessee by 20 points to win the SEC Tournament.
As a team, they are averaging 80.24 points a game, on 45.28% from the field, 38% from three, and they are pulling down a total of 34.16 rebounds a game. Their points per game is ranked 22nd in the nation and their three-point percentage is ranked 21st in the nation. Rebounding is all the way down at 188th. Auburn is rated 11th overall in the KenPom ratings. They have the 6th best offense, but their defense is only 43rd in the country. That is on par with Marquette and Minnesota. They will need to outscore their opponent if they want to take down the Cats.
The Kentucky Wildcats have made their way through the tournament in opposite fashion from Auburn. They won their first game by more than 30 points and won the last two by just single digits. Their Round of 32 game and Sweet Sixteen game were both nail biters. However, the Cats survived and now face Auburn for the third time this season. There is a lot to be said about the first two games these two teams played. The Cats first defeated Auburn at Auburn by a score of 82-80. Soon after, Auburn would lose three straight games and look like they were going to limp to the finish line. The game at Rupp Arena was without Reid Travis, and Kentucky still won by 29 points! They destroyed the Tigers and looked to be world beaters. This game is going to be more like the first matchup when the Tigers were a top-15 team.
The Wildcats are averaging 75.97 points a game while shooting 47.86% from the field, 35.84% from three, and they pull down 38.44 rebounds a game. They are 20th in FG% and 28th in rebounds a game. Their defense is where the Cats shine. Kentucky is rated 7th in KenPom with the 12th best offense and 8th best defense. Their suffocating defense has led to 30 wins for the fifth time since Calipari started coaching at Kentucky. Will they be able to suffocate Auburn as they did back at Rupp Arena? Perhaps.
Cover the Spread 365 Betting Trends
Auburn is 7-2 ATS in its last 9 games
Auburn is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Auburn’s last 5 games
Auburn is 2-21 SU in its last 23 games when playing Kentucky
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Auburn’s last 5 games when playing Kentucky
Kentucky is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
Kentucky is 20-3 SU in its last 23 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Kentucky’s last 6 games
Kentucky is 2-3-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Auburn
Kentucky is 21-2 SU in its last 23 games when playing Auburn
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Kentucky’s last 5 games when playing Auburn
March Madness Pick Kentucky Wildcats vs Auburn Tigers
This is the third game between these teams this season. There is that old adage that it is impossible to beat a team three times in a season, but the Cats can get it done. The last time these two teams played, Auburn lost 80-53 to the Cats. Auburn has been on a remarkable hot streak, but after two games in a row on fire, odds are they aren’t going to be doing it a third time in a row. I fully expect the defense of Kentucky to take down Auburn’s offense a notch. Without Okeke, Kentucky beats Auburn to advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2015.