NCAA Basketball Pick: Tournament Play of the Day Monday

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, April 7, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

Every day this NCAA post-season, LT Profits Sports seeks one single tournament play that has the best chance of cashing. Here is their Tournament Play of the Day Monday.

Defense and pace should be two keys in the NCAA Basketball Championship Game Monday night when the Kentucky Wildcats (29-10, 13-8 away/neutral) take on the Connecticut Huskies (31-8, 17-5 away/neutral) at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX at 9:10 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS.

The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 135 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -110.

It is easy to forget that Kentucky was the preseason number one team in the country after a disappointing regular season resulted in the Wildcats being an eight-seed, but this team that starts five freshman is peaking at the right time and seemed to come of age when beating previously undefeated Wichita State in the third round. However, luck has also been on the Wildcats’ side with three of their last four wins being by three points or less on last-second shots!

The seventh seeded Huskies complete a Championship Game matchup that few could have predicted before this tournament started, as they have ridden the play of Shabazz Napier and a stiff defense to get to this point. Moreover, they have won every game impressively since getting very lucky to get past St. Joseph’s in the second round thanks to some poor free throw shooting by the Hawks.

Now if this game were to be decided by the amount of NBA talent each team has and by the more flashy style of play, Kentucky would be an easy selection as several of their freshmen would be NBA draft picks right now. However, as the old adage says, “defense wins championships” and Connecticut is clearly superior in that department.

With that said, the Wildcats could still win this game, but they would probably have to do so by grinding out a win and with much less flare, as we simply do not see the Huskies allowing themselves to get involved in a track meet with a more athletic Kentucky team. That has us looking at the ‘under’ here as opposed to either side as we do expect this game to be played at Connecticut’s pace.

The Huskies easily own the best defense that Kentucky will have seen on its NCAA Tournament run as Connecticut is 10th in the country in defensive efficiency, 15th in effective field goal percentage allowed and perhaps most importantly eighth in the land in two-point defense allowing a mere 42.2 percent. Much has been made about the size advantage that Kentucky has, but the Connecticut defense has held up well vs. taller teams inside all year.

But that is just half of the equation to this ‘under’ as we also expect the Huskies to slow down the pace offensively, which they are very adept at ranking 260th in the nation in tempo rating. That would prevent the Wildcats from running out in transition before the stiff UConn defense can get set, and perhaps most importantly, the Huskies should succeed in slowing the pace because the Kentucky defense has applied surprisingly little pressure this season.

You see, the Wildcats are just 303rd in defensive turnover percentage at 16.1 percent vs. a national average of 18.3 percent, so we could easily see Connecticut frustrating this extremely young team by playing keep-away.

Add this all up and we expect a relatively low scoring game, making the ‘under’ the play in the NCAA Championship Game on Monday.

[gameodds]14/263445/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Kentucky, Connecticut ‘under’ 135 (-110)