NCAA Basketball Picks: Kentucky vs. Florida in SEC Tournament Quarterfinals

Doug Upstone

Friday, March 13, 2015 11:16 AM UTC

Friday, Mar. 13, 2015 11:16 AM UTC

Being the favorite from a coaching perspective, you are never thrilled about having to face a team you just beat and typically the sportsbooks take that into consideration versus the betting odds. 

Undefeated and top-ranked Kentucky just faced Florida last Saturday and over the last 10 minutes pulled away to a 67-50 win and was rather lucky to cover the 16.5-point spread. NCAA Basketball odds opened the Wildcats as -12 favorites against the Gators this time in the opening contest of the SEC quarters and this could well go up by tip off. Kentucky is 31-0, heavily favored to win the national championship according to college basketball odds, but how will this still young team handle expectations, probably truly realizing they are nine wins away from immortality.  Before making your sports picks, here is the lowdown from all perspectives as what to look for.

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Kentucky Wins and Covers Because ….they come to play knowing what kind of opponent Florida really is and has taken heed to coach John Calipari’s words. With the Wildcats top-rated field goal percentage defense at 35.1 percent, all the size they can employ can shutdown the paint like it’s roped off. When the Harrison twins and the other guards that see action are determined defenders on the perimeter, they hold foes to 27.4 percent behind the arc, leaving few options to score. If Aaron and or Andrew Harrison start making shots along with Devin Booker, Kentucky is virtually unstoppable and this season they are 13-0 and 9-3-1 ATS when converting more than 46 percent of shot attempts.


Kentucky Fails to Cover Because ….In reviewing the Wildcats non-covers in conference play, a few elements stand out when pondering college basketball picks. For starters, Calipari’s crew is not always emotionally involved and when this happens, they are slower to closeout on defenseand opponents shoot a much higher percentage. Also, Kentucky can be lazy getting back defense and if Kasey Hill and Dorian Finney-Smith attack in transition, they could find easy buckets and make this a contest closer.


Florida Covers the Spread Because….they stay in attack mode. What this means is taking full advantage of easy scoring chances and havin their various shooters make an abnormal amount of shots to keep the pressure on the Wildcats. Keep in mind, the Gators have absolutely nothing to lose and should be unencumbered to play their game. If Hill, Finney-Smith and possibly Michael Frazier II start finding the range and Billy Donovan’s guys can at least curtail Karl-Anthony Towns (16 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4 blocks averaged vs. Florida), this could go into the final minutes.


Florida Loses and Fails to Cover the Spread Because….they are simply outmanned by a much better team. To even consider beating the spread, let alone an upset of ginormous proportions, the Gators would have to nearly perfect for 40 minutes. When you realize they are 4-7 and 3-8 ATS in their past 11 outings and all those triumph’s came in Gainesville, they could use Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer from their back-to-back championship teams, who all are still playing in the NBA.


What to Expect
To cover the spread, Florida has to maintain control of the game. The Gators have to find and make open looks, make at least 10 3’s and do a much better job at the free throw line than 63.3 percent, their season average. Florida should have beaten the spread the last game and while it will still probably feel like a road game at the Georgia Dome with the volume of fans from the Commonwealth, if the Gators play their best and Kentucky does not, they can make an awful lot of college basketball handicappers who love underdogs very happy on Friday afternoon.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick – Florida +12

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