NCAA Basketball Picks: Kentucky St Wildcats To Be Tamed By Arizona Sun Devils

Joe Catalano

Saturday, December 12, 2015 4:57 PM GMT

Check inside for a thorough NCAA basketball odds analysis and free NCAA basketball picks for Saturday's Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Kentucky Wildcats showdown.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Arizona State -12.5
Best Odds Offered By 5Dimes

 

First year head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils,(6-2), Bobby Hurley, and the all-time assist leader in NCAA Basketball history must get his new team ready for the team that nobody wants to face; the #5 Kentucky Wildcats (8-1). John Calipari made it to 38-0 last season and would like to take it a step further, but it's never good to underestimate any coach with the last name of Hurley. See who we like as our betting pick as the Wildcats NBA-ready freshman gear up for this matchup.

Tip-off is set for this afternoon at 3:15 p.m. EST at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. This game can also be seen on the ESPN network. According to the NCAA Basketball odds board, the Wildcats are a 12.5 point betting favorite and the total for the game is listed at 141.

 

Is the Spread A Bit Low?
A combination of two things have made this spread lower, in my opinion, and that's Kentucky's recent 87-77 loss to UCLA and the fact that the Wildcats are facing a Hurley coached team.

Everyone knows Bobby Hurley from Duke University in the late 80's and early 90's and he was an elite basketball player. Also, he's the son of legendary high school coach, Bob Hurley Sr. of the famed St. Anthony High School and Sr. is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Point being, coaching is in the blood. Kentucky could have their work cut out for them.

 

An Important Game
You wouldn't think that a matchup with Eastern Kentucky would be a major challenge for the Wildcats, but people wanted to see how they would respond to the loss to UCLA. The Wildcats passed the test, defeating the Colonels, 88-67.

In this game, Kentucky raced out of the gate with 50 first half points. They didn't hit their 3's, but overall the Wildcats shot 54.7% from the field and John Calipari will take that any day of the week. Veteran Alex Poythress led the way with a huge performance, scoring 21 points and 13 rebounds on 9 of 12 shooting from the field. Forward Marcus Lee was a perfect 5 for 5 coming off the bench with 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 blocks, but Poythress clearly had a point to make, and the Wildcats hope that he carries that momentum over to today's game.

 

Model of Consistency
While the Wildcats hope that returnee Tyler Ulis bounces back from a poor performance against Eastern Kentucky, one player that they won't have to worry about is 6 foot 5 freshman, Jamal Murray.

Murray is the leading source of offense on this squad and can do many things well. The one thing that Murray has to work on is his shooting efficency, but that will come in time, as this is a player that provides a very deep team with 15.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and can hit the 3-ball 1/3 of the time. Murray has never met a shot that he hasn't liked, but every team needs a player like that, and this is a consistent and reliable producer. Expect more of the same from Murray.

 

Tyler Ulis
I mentioned sophomore Tyler Ulis earlier, and Ulis is a guy that Coach Calipari kept in the game in the crucial stages of some late games last season. Ulis played poorly in his last game, but is one of the most important players on the Kentcuky squad as his 5.4 assists per game and 90% shooting from the foul line in close games come in handy. He is also a team leader.

The one thing that Ulis has been lacking this season is his accuracy from the field. Surprisingly, he's shooting a mere 35.1% from the field as opposed to 40 % from last season. Look for Ulis to get better as the level of competition becomes greater. He's a money player despite the shooting percentage.

 

Momentum Factor
Coming off of 3 consecutive victories and a 6-2 record, Coach Bobby Hurley has this team believing. I mean, they're learning from one of the greatest point guards in NCAA history and there's no substitute for that or Hurley's 2 NCAA Championships as a player with Duke. Leading scorer, forward, Savon Goodman, is coming off of two really solid performances and Coach Hurley would really like it to be 3 after today.

Goodman shot just 3 for 6 in a win over the 18th ranked Texas A&M Aggies, but he still managed 10 points and 12 rebounds. Previous to that, he had a 23 point, 7 rebounding effort against Creighton in which he shot 10 for 13 from the field. Goodman is the catalyst of a team with a ton of confidence, and that's why I like Arizona State in this game. I'm buying into what Coach Hurley is teaching the Sun Devils and the Wildcats are still reeling from the loss to UCLA. Look for Arizona State with your NCAA Basketball picks.

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