Willie’s NCAAB season picks record: 41-27-2 (+12.60 units)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Free NCAAB Pick: Kentucky ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
Not only is everyone in the SEC trailing Tennessee, the entire country is now chasing the Volunteers after they moved to No. 1 in the latest AP poll. Two teams trailing the Vols in the rankings and conference race tangle Tuesday at Rupp Arena where the Kentucky Wildcats host the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
A big week for the SEC opens with five teams bunched within a game at the tip-top of the ranks, and concludes with the conference paired off in its annual challenge against the Big 12. Kentucky is part of that quintet and rising in the polls following 4-straight wins, and can’t afford to get caught looking ahead to a big matchup in Lexington this weekend against Kansas. Mississippi State is one of four SEC teams to sit out the interconference clash, but has an equally big matchup ahead against Auburn.
‘Cats Shooting Better Than 51 Percent At Home This Season
After being upset twice a couple of weeks ago, Mississippi State returned to form this past week by taking down both Florida and Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs rallied from 5-down with three minutes to go against the Gators, using some deadly outside shooting to turn back Florida by a 71-68 count. They followed that Saturday in Nashville in a wire-to-wire 71-55 win over the Commodores in a game Bovada closed the cowbell ringers -3. The game at Vanderbilt never got close to a 146-point total, stopping a string of 4-straight ‘over’ winners in MSU matchups.
Kentucky held on for the win at Auburn on Saturday, needing late free throws to avoid blowing a what had been a 17-point second half lead in the 82-80 final. The Wildcats went on a 9-0 run late in the first half to go up by 8 in a tightly-played first half, and the Tigers were cold after the break before catching fire and finally finding their mark. Kentucky’s offense shot 50 percent or better for the third time in four games, and was paced by 20 points from each Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro who combined to go 5-for-11 from 3-point range.
Home Team 6-1-1 ATS Last 8 Tilts
Last year’s lone collision also took place at Rupp Arena, Kentucky galloping to a 78-65 victory to take a dominating 95-20 lead in the rivalry. The teams hooked up in a tight battle until midway through the second half when the Wildcats pulled away to nearly double-up the 7½-point spread they were favored by on the NCAA basketball odds board.. The “over'”has cashed nine of the last 11 matchups, and the last four in Lexington. A return clash is scheduled nearly three weeks from now in Starkville.
With home teams bringing home the bacon in six of the last eight meetings, I’m riding the UK express with my free NCAA basketball pick.