Coach Calipari and his Wildcats will take the next step toward that goal when they host Morehead State Wednesday night at Rupp Arena (7 pm ET, ESPN3). Where does the best college basketball betting value lie tonight?
Defending National Champion Kentucky may have lost most of
last year's production, including four guys who went in the first round of the
NBA draft, but there are more future NBA picks in the lineup this season. It's
just a matter of molding them into a team. Tonight they face teh easy task of playing the Morehead Sate Eagles.
Kentucky is likely to win this game, but can they cover 24
points that the NCAA Basketball odds makers are asking for? Or do the Eagles have enough to keep this one close, or even, dare we
say, pull an upset?
Kentucky, starting three freshman and two sophomores, opened
the season with a tough 72-69 win over Maryland, then lost to Duke 75-68 on a
neutral court in Atlanta. Last Friday the 'Cats blew out Lafayette (of the
Patriot League) 101-49.
Kentucky has shot almost 53 percent from the floor as a team
through its first three games, and 50 percent from 3-point land, but less than
65 percent from the free-throw line. And those free-throws might come in handy
when trying to cover Wednesday's pointspread.
Morehead State, meanwhile, returned just two starters this
year from a team that went 18-15 last year. The Eagles, in their first season
under new head coach Sean Woods, the former Kentucky “Unforgettable” who tossed
in 21 points for the 'Cats in that epic defeat vs. Duke in the 1992 NCAA
tournament, are off to a 3-1 start. They opened with a 77-74 victory over
LIU-Brooklyn, then lost to Maryland (of the ACC) 67-45. MSU has since beaten D2
Alice Lloyd 101-50 and, last Sunday, that same Lafayette team Kentucky
With their up-tempo/press style of play the Eagles have
forced 22 turnovers per game so far.
But on the offensive end MSU has shot just 44 percent from
the field and 29 percent from long range.
At the other ends of the courts the Wildcats have held foes
to 39 percent FG shooting through their first three games, while the Eagles
have allowed opponents to shoot 45 percent.
Kentucky has won 52 games in a row at Rupp Arena. But last
year, with that powerhouse squad favored by large amounts almost every time
out, just like Wednesday, the Wildcats only went 5-12 against the spread in
When handicapping Kentucky at the moment the question
becomes “how far along are they?” The Wildcats at the moment are a collection
of great talent; eventually they'll evolve into a great team. Will that happen
in February? March? Next week?
Wednesday's game might not tell us a whole lot, although if
the 'Cats struggle, it might indicate they're further away rather than closer
to being great.
So far this season Kentucky has four guys averaging
double-digit PPG and seven guys averaging at least 19 minutes per game.
MSU, meanwhile, has just one guy averaging in double-digit
points, senior F Milton Chavis, but nine guys averaging at least 13 MPG.
Woods went 50-80 in four seasons as the head man at
Mississippi Valley State before coming to Morehead State. His first team with
the Delta Devils went 7-25, but they gradually improved to 21-13 and a berth in
the NCAA tournament last season.
Woods went 0-2 against his Alma-mater while at MVSU,
although that shouldn't surprise anybody.
These two teams, separated by about 60 miles down Interstate
64, last met three seasons ago, the 'Cats coming away with a 75-59 victory in
their first game under Coach Calipari. For what it's worth, Kentucky was
favored by 20 points that day.
Betting Lines and Trends
Most of the NCAA basketball betting sites we consulted opened Kentucky at
around -23 for this game, and had since bumped the 'Cats to -24.
Free NCAAB Pick
MSU's only hope for
this game is to force some Kentucky turnovers and try to get some easy hoops,
because the Eagles are not going to get many good looks in the half-court game.
But while the 'Cats are young, they should be able to take care of business
here. We don't like giving up points by the dozens, but we'll take Kentucky at
the -23.5 offered at 5Dimes.
NCAA Basketball Picks: Kentucky -23.5 at 5Dimes