NCAA Basketball Picks: Auburn vs. Kentucky in SEC Tournament Semifinals

Doug Upstone

Saturday, March 14, 2015 11:08 AM GMT

There were many different scenarios headed into the semis for this SEC tournament and I can guarantee you no college basketball handicapper or hoops fans had this matchup going into Saturday.  

Yet this is the beauty of March Madness, stunning upsets occur leaving those making college basketball picks ashen colored or grinning ear to ear depending on the outcomes.

Auburn pulled yet another upset, as KT Harrell made a dramatic three-pointer to tie the game with LSU with one-second left. Having seized the momentum, the Tigers won in OT 73-70 as 9.5-point underdogs against LSU.

So now, a team with 19 regular season losses wears the David costume against Goliath, who for the most part is as large as the mythical giant in the frontcourt. Given all the circumstances, it seems impossible for Auburn to knock off Kentucky, but what the equalizer, the sportsbooks spread number? Let’s dig in to the details.

 

Kentucky wins and covers because….
They are the best team in the country and will face a foe playing their fourth game in four days. The Wildcats have NBA size, which Auburn does not, with its tallest players at 6’8. The won  the previous matchup in blitzkrieg-style 110-75, shooting 64.7 percent and winning the battle on the boards 44-22. Watch for coach John Calipari to feed the ball inside to score in the paint and wear the Tigers down even more, attempting to make their smallish squad in shorter because of foul trouble.

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Kentucky fails to cover because…. 
They are bored and probably would prefer to be challenged, at least from a reputation standpoint. Auburn does have quickness advantages which they hope to utilize and given the betting odds with the Wildcats a 23-point opening favorite, coach Cal will either try and sell his team about playing their level of superiority or try and make his squad fearful of a hot team that needs to be extinguished. If the Big Blue players fail to listen, the Tigers would have an opportunity to cover.

 

Auburn covers the spread because….
They are not done yet. At least that is what coach Bruce Pearl said. There is not chance Auburn can
win this game, but beating the NCAA Basketball odds is within their range. Start with Harrell, who is the hottest player in the tournament with 73 points. Also consider Harrell, K.C. Ross-Miller, Malcolm Canada and Antonio Mason are all seniors and they have been determined that after a mediocre regular season, they did not want to stop being a War Eagle just yet.

 

Auburn loses and fails to cover the spread because….
They have nothing more to give against an opponent foe who can dominate. When the adrenaline is flowing, a team can keep persevering, but what happens if Kentucky puts together two 8-0 runs in the first half and the Tigers players have not only to look up at a huge deficit, but the size of all the Wildcats players. Toss in 6’8 Jordan Granger, one of the tallest Auburn players, will miss at least one half for being ejected from Friday’s contest.  

What to Expect
Auburn will be able to have the carryover momentum at the start of the game, from that point it boils down to how long they can hang in before wearing down from fatigue and having to compete against the tall timber with NBA talent everywhere.

Congrats to coach Pearl for a job well done but his counterpart, Coach Cal, in his career is 24-1 (19-6 ATS) as a favorite in conference tournaments, when his teams have reached the semi-final or title game.

Truthfully, this spread number is a monster, but given all the likely circumstances, with this sports pick, I’ll take Big Blue to win, cover and advance to Sunday.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Kentucky -23 at (I must be crazy)