Harvard Will Take Kentucky to School ... Against the Spread

Mark Lathrop

Saturday, December 2, 2017 1:47 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 1:47 PM UTC

Kentucky has been hard to back this year, going 3-4 ATS against lowly opponents. Our NCAAB handicapper, Mark Lathrop, believes the trend will continue as they host the Harvard Crimson.

Free NCAAB Picks: Harvard +21.5
Best Lines Offered at 5Dimes (-105)

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The 7th ranked Kentucky Wildcats continue a soft portion of their schedule on Saturday afternoon as they are paid a visit from the Harvard Crimson of the Ivy League. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN though, so we can expect some liquidity in the betting markets and some public action. We will be depending on that public action to inflate this line even further, which opened favoring Kentucky at -19.5 and quickly jumped to 20.5 at most top sportsbooks as of Friday evening and it's still moving. The opening total line has started at 143.5 at BookMaker.

Even though the Wildcats have been ranked 7th in the AP poll and 9th in the kenpom.com rankings, they have yet to put two good halves together this year – save for the 34-point win against lowly Illinois-Chicago last weekend. As such, Kentucky is a disappointing 3-4 ATS this season, with many of those ATS losses not even close to the number. It started in the first game of the season against Utah Valley State, who led Kentucky 34-25 at half. Next, they barely beat Vermont 73-69 as a 12-point favorite, losing the second half of that game by 8 points. Following a SU loss and ATS win against Kansas they struggled to put an East Tennessee State team away and didn’t cover. After that the Wildcats let Troy outscore them by 8-points in the second half and they didn’t cover their 18-point spread by double digits. Only in the last week have they covered ATS against IUPW and Illinois Chicago. Needless to say, trust issues remain in backing Kentucky as a huge favorite against anyone this season.

Also with their deficits are the Crimson, who come into this matchup 1-5 ATS and 3-5 SU. They rank 307th in the country in rebounds per game, with a lot of their blowout losses coming with huge disadvantages on the glass. Compared to Kentucky, Harvard rebounds at an average of 31 times per game on the road versus Kentucky’s 41 times at home. There are no indications that this will cease in this game. However, Harvard was outrebounded 39 to 21 against 21st ranked St. Mary’s and only lost by 18 points. They stuck in that game by only turning the ball over 8 times.

My issue with backing Kentucky in this spot is that they really haven’t played anyone this year, other than Kansas, and there is likely some malaise setting in from facing all of the cupcake opponents. Harvard has played a harder schedule according to power rankings. Even with this, Kentucky’s average winning margin is just 15 points. Look for the line to go up in Kentucky’s favor before the game and make this wager late. With that plan I’ll take Harvard and all of those points here, and bank on Kentucky having one slow half for us to cover the number as my Saturday NCAAB Pick.

2017-18 NCAAB Record: 11-2, +8.85 Units

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