NCAA Basketball Picks: Kentucky vs. Georgia

Joe Catalano

Thursday, March 7, 2013 1:42 PM GMT

The Kentucky Wildcats (20-9, 11-5) look to rebound from a loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks as they hit the road and face the Georgia Bulldogs (14-15, 8-8) on Thursday with 2 games to go in the regular season.

The finale is against Florida and the Wildcats need this winnable game.

Tip-off is scheduled for Thursday at 7:00 pm ET at the Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. This game can be seen on ESPN.

5 Dimes Sportsbook lists the Wildcats as a 3 point betting odds favorite with no total available.

The Wildcats need to be careful on the road. Georgia is coming off of an impressive victory over a respectable Tennessee Volunteers basketball squad, 78-68. Georgia outworked the Vols and committed fewer mistakes. This put a damper on Tennessee’s chances of making the Big Dance as they’re on the outside looking in.

Containing Kentavious

This will be one of the keys to the game for Kentucky. Sophomore Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is listed at just 6 foot 5, but can do it all. He’s coming off of a 25 point, 9 rebound, 4 steal performance against Tennessee in the Bulldogs most recent victory and is averaging 22.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in his last 2 games alone.

Georgia can only play the role of spoiler unless they win the SEC Tournament, but that’s highly unlikely. The threat of Caldwell- Pope should scare Kentucky enough. He’s scored in double figures in every game this season and Georgia being basically a one man team, will look for him often.

Young and Deep

Kentucky is a freshman laced team with no definitive superstar that they can depend upon every night. When one player gets cold, there’s someone to pick them up. That said, guard, Archie Goodwin has been a major source of offense.

Goodwin leads the team in scoring and is averaging 15 points in his last 4 games. The one negative to Goodwin’s game is that he’s turnover prone. Look for Goodwin to lead the Wildcats in this game offensively; he’s had the hot hand.

Willie Cauley-Stein

This 7 foot forward will create a lot of problems for Georgia on the defensive end with his long wingspan and ability to clog up the middle. Cauley-Stein has had the offensive touch lately, averaging 13 points in his last 4 games and aside from his ability to rebound, is averaging 4.3 blocks in those 4 games, capped off by a 7 block performance against Missouri. Cauley- Stein will have the unenviable task of trying to stop Caldwell-Pope.

All Trends Point to Georgia

Aside from the Wildcats being a sub.500 road team, from a betting perspective, everything seems to be in favor of the Bulldogs.

Wildcats are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall

Wildcats are 10-23-1 in their last 34 games following an ATS loss

Wildcats are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games

Wildcats are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a home winning record

Bulldogs are 10-1 ATS in their last 10 games overall

Bulldogs are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a SU winning record

Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games at home

Bulldogs are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a SU win.

[gameodds]14/223383/43/us[/gameodds]

Outcome

Although these are some very convincing trends and Georgia has some momentum and the home court advantage, Kentucky is the better basketball team with more to play for. Look for Willie Cauley-Stein and the Wildcats defense to do just enough to hold Georgia in check and come out with a victory in a close game as we make them our NCAA basketball pick in this spot.

NCAAB Picks:  Kentucky -3 at 5 Dimes