NCAA Basketball Picks: Grab Kentucky -13.5 Over Alabama In Huge SEC Clash

Willie Bee

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 2:10 PM GMT

Banged up and mad following a loss at Texas A&M, Kentucky comes home as solid favorites on the NCAA basketball odds for Tuesday's tilt vs. the Alabama Crimson Tide.

If you want my opinion, and it's apparent you do since you clicked on the link, there's no safer moneyline play Tuesday night than the Kentucky Wildcats over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Of course, the return isn't going to be much with Kentucky initially going out as 13 point chalk at BetOnline in the friendly confines of Rupp Arena. That spread has inched up a half-point with a -1100 moneyline now at BetOnline. ESPN will carry the contest from Lexington starting at 7 PM (ET), and the board is currently showing 137 for the total.

John Calipari's crew heads into the home stretch of the regular season clinging to a 1-game lead in the Southeastern Conference. Three teams -- LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M -- are hot on the Wildcats' tail, with Florida and Vanderbilt just two behind. Alabama is three back with a level 7-7 conference mark, and as it is in every conference right now, seeding for the SEC Tournament in Nashville is what we're focusing on with the top 4 teams from the regular season receiving byes in the first two rounds.

 

Poythress Possible For UK On Tuesday
Yeah, I know, Alabama (16-10 straight up, 14-10 against the spread) is playing some pretty good ball presently, having just seen a 5-game win streak stopped last Saturday at home by an upset-minded Mississippi State squad that was getting 6 points on the NCAA basketball odds. The final three wins of that stretch came against Texas A&M at home plus both Florida and LSU on the road.

Defense has been the strength of Avery Johnson's club in his first year at the helm in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide are in the top 15% of the country allowing 67.1 PPG, that clip nearly two points higher on the road, and they're a top 30 team limiting opponents to just a tick higher than 40% from the field.

Kentucky (20-7 SU, 12-15 ATS) also just saw its win streak end at four in a 79-77 overtime loss at Texas A&M this past Saturday, the second straight time the two schools have gone to OT in their burgeoning rivalry. The Wildcats were ahead with just seconds to go before Isaac Humphries was hit with a technical that helped the Aggies to the mild upset as 2 point home 'dogs.

Not helping matters for Kentucky right now is the fact that both Derek Willis and Alex Poythress are injured. Willis suffered a severe ankle sprain Saturday and could be out through the SEC Tournament. Poythress (knee) has missed the last five games and will be a game-time decision Tuesday night.

 

'Cats In Search Of 4th-Straight Win Over 'Bama
If Kentucky is going to hold on and claim the regular season title, it won't be an easy go. The Wildcats have road games at Vanderbilt and Florida following this matchup before closing at home vs. LSU, with all three of those teams fighting to make good impressions before the conference tourney gets underway.

The Wildcats beat the Tide in Alabama early on the SEC slate, 77-61, thanks to one of their betting shooting performances.  Kentucky shot nearly 55% in the game to easily beat the -6½ road chalk, Poythress among the stars of the game with 25 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field. Retin Obasohan, Alabama's leading scorer (16.9 ppg), chipped in 21 for the Crimson Tide, converting 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

Calipari and his kids feel like Saturday's game at A&M was taken away from them by the refs for Humphries over-exuberance, and that has me convinced the Wildcats will come out fast tonight. If Poythress can take the floor, the crowd at Rupp is going to just get louder, not to mention it will take some pressure off Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis. I'm going to lay the points in this one for my free NCAA basketball pick.

 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Kentucky -13½ 
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline