Missouri vs. Kentucky Free Picks: Can Wildcats Cover -23.5?

Jeff Grant

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 2:31 PM GMT

Kentucky was challenged in a major way in its first two SEC games last week, but this handicapper expects a top performance against Missouri to cover the point spread Tuesday night.

Outclassed 
Missouri is 4-16 SU all-time when taking on the No. 1 team in the country, which is important to consider when making your college basketball picks, while it has also dropped all six of its prior meetings against Kentucky.

The Tigers have scored 72 or more points in each of their last four contests, but they’ll have a difficult time reaching that type of number in this Southeastern Conference matchup, as the Wildcats are first in the country in defensive efficiency.

Offensively, the team must continue connecting on 35.6 percent of its shots from beyond the arc to remain competitive, as it faces a foe that limits opponents to 27.6 shooting from that area of the floor.

Sports bettors will find that the the program is 1-4 SUATS in five games versus foes that allow 64 or fewer points per game.

 

Wake-Up Call
Kentucky has the best chance of any team to enter the 2015 NCAA Tournament with an undefeated record, which can’t be ignored when looking over the college basketball odds, but it was tested in a major way in a pair of overtime victories to open the new year.

The Wildcats still lead the nation in outscoring opponents by 24.4 points a contest, while enjoying their best start to a season since the 2009-10 squad  opened up with a 19-0 record.

Under his two-platoon system, John Calipari’s roster has nine players averaging 12.7 to 25.8 minutes per game.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the team is 8-0 SU and 4-4 ATS as home favorites of 18.5 to 24 points.

 

Youth Is Served
Underclassmen have accounted for 66.1 percent of the Tigers’ minutes to this point of the season under first year head coach Kim Anderson, with the freshmen class providing 38.4 percent of that number.

Missouri still has a veteran presence on its roster, with senior guard Keith Shamburger ranking fifth in the SEC in averaging 34.1 minutes, while putting together a 21-point performance against Auburn last time out.

 

Outside Shot
Lost in all the noise of the Wildcats winning their last two games by a single-digit margin is the fact that they’ve shot 43.7 percent from beyond the arc in their last five games.

Kentucky still sits behind 165 teams nationally in knocking down just 33.8 percent of its attempts from that area of the floor, but its starting to show some balance on the offensive end.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Wildcats as one of their NCAAB picks, as the Tigers are 27-56-3 ATS on the road versus teams with a winning home record.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Kentucky Wildcats -23.5 at Bookmaker