Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats Pick
Florida Gators (17-13 SU, 12-18 ATS) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (25-5 SU, 16-14 ATS)
When: Saturday, March 9, 2019 – 2 p.m. ET
Where: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Kentucky
By: Matt Lowry, College Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: FLA +10 / UK -10 (MyBookie Sportsbook)
Total: O/U 128.5
Last Time Out: Florida lost to LSU 79-78; Kentucky beat Ole Miss 80-76
Scouting the Gators:
Florida saw a much-needed win slip away when they fell to LSU on their home floor this past week and we scored one in the left column! What makes this loss worse is that it came in overtime and it happened on Senior Night. With that loss to the Tigers, it puts the Gators in a dangerous position regarding the NCAA tournament. They have now lost two-games in a row, both coming at home and have slipped into the “Last Four Byes” category of Joe Lunardi’s projections. Having said all that, it makes this game at Kentucky pretty much a must win if the Gators want to stay in the field of 68.
More College Basketball: Louisville vs Virginia Pick
Scouting the Wildcats:
The Wildcats shook off the blow out loss to Tennessee by defeating the Ole Miss Rebels this past week. They are now 14-3 in the conference, which is clearly good enough for a top four finish and the all-important double-bye in the SEC tournament starting next week. The Wildcats can still clinch a share of the regular season title by beating Florida and hoping both Tennessee and LSU lose their season finale. As it stands right now, the Wildcats are a two-seed in the tournament but could move up to a one-seed if they win the SEC tournament.
Head to Head:
Kentucky mostly recently shutdown the Gators back on February 2nd in a 65-54 win. Going back further, the Wildcats are 7-3 straight up in the last ten and 4-1 straight up at Rupp Arena dating back to 2015.
Notable Betting Trends:
When these teams have recently met, it tends to be a low scoring thriller. In turn, the under is 7-3 in the last ten meetings and the under is 5-0 in the last five games at Rupp Arena. Other trends show that the Gators play very well when scoring between 70-85 points in a game. They suffered their first loss when scoring in this point range against LSU, making them 10-1 overall and 3-0 on the road. As for Kentucky, they are 8-1 overall when they play an opponent on two days of rest opposed to the normal three days of rest between games.
The Kentucky freshman. This season the Kentucky freshman are good for 60.8% of the Wildcats points. The main two stars being Tyler Herro (14.1 points per game) and Keldon Johnson (13.7 points per game). When both guys play well, Kentucky tends to win most of the time. Keldon Johnson struggled in game one against the Gators and had a 4 for 13 night, while only scoring 10 points. If Kentucky are going to complete the sweep as well as win by double-digits, they will need their best freshman to have productive games.
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Florida will Cover if:
They can shoot at least 40% from the three-point line. The Gators have been terrible when it comes to shooting the three in recent games, and really, they have been bad for most of the season. In the first meeting with the Cats, the Gators shot 5 of 19 from deep (26.3%). To be fair to Florida, Kentucky shot 6 of 21 (28.6%), but still the Gators did not do themselves any favors by jacking up so many threes. During their current two-game losing streak, the Gators shot 5 of 21 (23.8%) against the Dawgs and 9 of 25 (36%) against the Tigers. Bottom line is they must make their threes. At this point the number they should look for is in the 41%-43% range. With the Gators being a double-digit underdog, this should give them enough scoring to keep the game relatively close.
Kentucky will Cover if:
They can dominate the rebounding battle. Overall this season, the Wildcats are 11th in the country at limiting their opponents to 27.5 rebounds per game. They average 38.6 rebounds of their own, good for 32nd in the country. In Gainesville, Kentucky outrebounded Florida 42 to 32, which in turn gave the Wildcats more possessions and more second chance scoring opportunities.
Matt’s Pick for Florida vs. Kentucky:
Kentucky is clearly the best team here, but the main question is can they win by double figures. When at home against SEC opponents, the Wildcats have won by an average margin of 14.4 points per game. Other than the one loss to LSU, Kentucky is dominant at Rupp Arena and should be able to take down the Gators without much trouble.
Matt’s College Basketball Pick: Kentucky Wildcats -10
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