Is history repeating itself? And if so, will the Kentucky Wildcats become a favorite for college basketball bettors to fade the entire season, even if this talented group ultimately cuts down the nets in Arlington next March?
Kentucky was a losing pick early last season, failing to
cover the spread in its first five lined contests and going 6-10 against the
spread en route to a 21-12 overall record that ended with a first round loss in
the NIT. The Wildcats are doing a little
better at the outset of this season, sitting 6-1 in the W-L column and 2-3 ATS,
but they've shown signs of vulnerability the past two weeks, turnovers a big
part of the trouble.
The Kentucky Wildcats will get a chance to improve on both
the straight up and spread records Sunday when UK
takes on the Providence Friars at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. FOX Sports 1 will televise the 8:30 PM (ET)
tip, and the Wildcats are holding as 6-point favorites.
As has been the case so far, online sportsbooks are a bit shy in releasing
a total for the contest, and SBR's live NCAA Basketball odds will post that
figure as soon as it comes out.
5th-Straight Win Since Lone Defeat
rather ragged start is nothing new, and is in fact expected considering the
reliance on freshmen to pull the load.
Ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls, the biggest surprise might be that
this year's crop of youngsters has only lost one game, and that was a
close 4-point decision to then-No. 2 Michigan State a little less than two
The Wildcats turned it over 17 times to the Spartans, or
else they might still be sitting atop both polls instead of No. 3/4 by the
writers and coaches respectively. Kentucky has won its four contests since then, but the
same problem with turnovers has plagued UK in a couple of those matches.
A nearly 40-point margin of victory over Robert Morris
masked 15 turnovers in what was a sloppy performance otherwise, and while the
'Cats cut the mistakes down vs. Cleveland State, they struggled to find the
basket and needed a strong second half to escape with a 7-point win against the
Vikings who were 24.5 point underdogs.
Kentucky is coming off an
81-63 dubya over Eastern Michigan this past
Friday, but again it was turnovers that led to a slow start as the Wildcats
once again failed to cover a 20+ point spread.
The team committed 20 giveaways, five in the first 2:50 of the game, and
sits in the middle of the nation in that department as a result.
Another problem has been long-range shooting where Kentucky is in the
bottom 50 of the country connecting on just 28.9% of 3-point attempts.
Relevant In New Big East
is off to a 7-1 start to the campaign (4-4 ATS), and Ed Cooley continues to get
the Friars turned around in only his third season on the job. But like the Wildcats, Cooley's troops have
run into a little trouble covering the spread of late, dropping the cash in
three of their last four, and also like UK, the Friars have struggled
recently from beyond the arc.
The lone loss was to Maryland
in the finals of the Paradise Jam last Wednesday in the Virgin Islands, a 56-52
setback that saw Providence
close as a 1.5 point favorite. The
Friars came back home to score a 78-69 victory Friday over Fairfield, Cooley's
previous employer, but they couldn't build on a 10-point halftime lead and fell
well short of the 17-point line in that game.
Providence is missing
talented freshman Brandon Austin, a top-50 recruit out of Philadelphia who was suspended indefinitely
for some classroom difficulties. Senior
Bryce Cotton leads a quartet of Friars averaging double digits with an 18.5 PPG
It's only the second time Providence
have met, and the first time was 37 years ago in the NIT, a narrow 79-78
victory for the 'Cats. I'm going to get
for my free NCAA Basketball picks tonight despite the recent problems.
My pick: Kentucky -6