NCAA Basketball Picks: Florida vs. Kentucky

Darin Zank

Saturday, March 7, 2015 1:34 PM GMT

Kentucky is one win away from a perfect regular season; a victory Saturday at home against a disappointing Florida team would do it. But of course the Wildcats are favored by a huge number; do we give the points in this spot, or take 'em?

Gators-Wildcats Betting Odds
The NCAA Basketball odds opened Kentucky at right around -16 for this game; in the early betting some books dropped that spread to -15.5.

 

Gators-Wildcats: The Situation
Kentucky has won 30 games in a row, but few came tougher than Tuesday night's victory at Georgia. The 'Cats trailed the 'Dawgs by nine points with nine minutes to go, but battled back, and later ended the game on a 16-2 run to claim a hard-earned win.

Kentucky only shot 40 percent from the floor Tuesday, but hit 18 of 25 free-throws and committed just three turnovers. However, the 'Cats came up a bucket short of the spread as 10-point favorites.

Last Saturday UK crushed Arkansas 84-67, covering at -15 in a game that wasn't even as close as that final score might indicate.

At 30-0 overall, 17-0 in SEC play the 'Cats have already won the SEC regular-season title, and continue their pursuit of perfection. As of Saturday morning Bovada online sportsbook was offering a price of +170 on the prop that Kentucky finishes this season undefeated. The Wildcats were also posted as 1/1 favorites to win the national championship; Duke came second on that board at 17/2, followed by Wisconsin at 9/1 and Arizona and Virginia at 12/1.

On the other side of this regular-season finale Florida had lost six of seven games, almost every one of them “close,” but has won its last two, after topping Texas A&M Tuesday night 66-62. The Gators led by three at the half, pushed that lead to 16 with about eight minutes to go, then hung on from there. Florida shot 48 percent from the floor, and held the Aggies to just 36 percent shooting. But the Gators continued their season-long struggles at the free-throw line, hitting just 20 of 38, and that cost them the cover as five-point favorites.

Last Saturday Florida beat Tennessee 66-49, covering at -6.

But at 15-15 overall, 8-9 in conference play the Gators are down to playing out the last few games of a lost season.

Check Out This Capper's Preview on LSU vs. Arkansas

Gators-Wildcats Recent History
Florida had beaten Kentucky three times in a row, but the 'Cats won the first meeting between the teams this season one month ago in Gainesville 68-61. The Gators led that game by a bucket at the half, and it stayed close throughout, but Kentucky finished on a 7-2 run to secure the victory. However, Florida hung on for the cover as an eight-point home dog.

UF out-shot the Wildcats that night from the floor 49 to 47 percent, but Kentucky won the battle on the boards by a 33-20 margin.

That game played OVER its total of 117.

Last year the Gators swept three games from the Wildcats.

 

Gators-'Cats Key Stats
Florida is shooting just under 44 percent from the floor this season, just 32 percent from 3-point range and a miserable 63.5 percent from the line. At the other end of the court the Gators are holding opponents to less than 41 percent FG shooting.

Kentucky is shooting just under 47 percent from the floor, 34 percent from beyond the arc and 71 percent from the line, while holding foes to just 35 percent FG shooting, which ranks No. 1 in the nation.

 

Gators-'Cats Betting Trends
Florida is trending OVER on the totals this season by a 19-10 margin, even though Gators games have averaged just 124 points. Obviously, Florida has been going against some very low totals.

Kentucky is 17-13 on the UNDERS, as Wildcats games have averaged 128 points.

 

Injury Update
Florida G Michael Frazier, who leads the team in scoring at 13 PPG, has missed the last seven games with a bad ankle. So far the Gators are 3-4 SU, 2-5 ATS without him. Some reports indicate there's a chance he'll come back and play today, but we don't know anything for sure. Bettors might want to wait until closer to tip-off before playing this game.

 

Gators-Wildcats Free Pick
We'd be very tempted to take Florida and the points in this spot if we knew for sure that Frazier would play. The Gators gave Kentucky a tough game a month ago, and they've played in some tough luck this season, losing 11 games by seven points or less. But if Frazier doesn't play, and as of this writing we don't know, Florida could be in big trouble. Look what Kentucky did to a pretty good Arkansas team last week. Today's spread might be slightly inflated, but we'll give the points with the best team in the country with our NCAA basketball picks.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Wildcats -15.5