Kentucky is almost always favored by big numbers these days, and contends with another one Wednesday night at home against Eastern Kentucky. Check our NCAA basketball pick here.
Most of Wednesday's NCAA basketball odds market opened Kentucky at -24 for this game, with a total of right around 160. In the early betting the spread was going up, while the total skipped to as high as 163 at some shops.
Kentucky (7-1 SU, 2-6 ATS) begins this season, as it usually does, as a national title contender, even though it lost all five starters from last year's 38-1 team. The young 'Cats then began this season 7-0, with a win over Duke, but last time out last Thursday lost out at UCLA 87-77. Kentucky trailed by eight points at the half and by 15 early in the second half, and never got closer than nine after that.
On the night the Wildcats shot just 38 percent from the floor, while allowing the Bruins to shoot 53 percent.
Kentucky lost that game outright as a six-point favorite, and is now 0-5 ATS over its last five games.
Eastern Kentucky (7-2 SU, 3-1 ATS) went 21-12 last season, but lost three starters, including its top two scorers, and its head coach. So a regression could be expected this season. But so far the Colonels are exceeding expectations. They recently won five games in a row, lost at Western Kentucky by a bucket, but bounced back to win at Savannah State Saturday 74-71.
EKU only shot 38 percent from the field Saturday, but hit 24 of 27 free-throws and finished +6 on turnovers.
These teams met one year ago, Kentucky taking an 82-49 victory, covering at -25. The Wildcats jumped out to a 41-14 halftime lead on the Colonels and cruised from there, shooting 57 percent from the floor on the night, while holding EKU to just 26 percent shooting.
That game just sneaked UNDER a total of 133, as the teams combined for a 76-point garbage-time second half.
Eastern Kentucky is 3-1 on the OVERS this season, as Colonels games have averaged a very healthy 171 points.
Kentucky is 5-3 on the OVERS, as Wildcats games have averaged 145 points.
Talent-wise, of course, this game is a mismatch. There's not much doubt as to the winner; only the final margin matters. But over recent weeks Kentucky couldn't cover 25 points against Wright State, 24 points against Boston U, 21 points against South Florida or 20 points against Illinois State. Part of that might be because the 'Cats are only shooting 68 percent from the line, just 29 percent from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Eastern Kentucky has already hit the 100-point mark three times this season. The Colonels might not win this game, but we like 'em plus the points for our NCAA basketball picks. Also, if EKU can keep this game semi-close, perhaps possessions might become more important. So we're thinking UNDER.
NCAA Basketball Picks: Eastern Kentucky +25 & UNDER 163 at Heritage