SEC action here as the Vanderbilt Commodores travel to take on the Kentucky Wildcats. The Commodores have struggled a bit recently, losing three of their last five games, while Kentucky has played really well recently and is ranked #18 in the country. Oddsmakers have the Wildcats as double digit favorites here.
I’m higher on this Commodores team than most people are. Yes they’ve lost a few games recently, but I think they’re better than they seem. For example, a lot of their losses have been closer than the final score might indicate, and they also have some impressive wins.
In their most recent game for instance, they lost to Georgia by 19 points. But the game was really close the entire way, then randomly got out of hand in the final few minutes. The game was tied with nine minutes left, so it was far from a blowout.
— Amp Lee (@1AMPLEE) August 4, 2018
They beat an Arizona State team that was ranked at the time by 16 points, and also beat a pretty good USC team on the road earlier in the season. They know they have to start winning conference games in a hurry, and I expect an all out effort here. They played Kentucky very close last year, losing once by seven points and once by two points in overtime, so they’ll be out for revenge and have shown they can hang with the Wildcats in Kentucky. I don’t think this one will be lopsided.
Kentucky has been better than most people expected this year after they lost a lot of last year’s team to the NBA draft. The Wildcats are currently ranked 18th, and have won four of their last five games against some pretty good teams.
The only game they’ve lost recently was a two-point nailbiter on the road against Alabama, and they beat an elite North Carolina team right at the end of non-conference slate. They dominated the boards against the Tar Heels, grabbing 12 offensive rebounds and forcing 18 turnovers. This Kentucky team is a little better at shooting the three than last year’s squad was, and they have four guys averaging at least 12.5 points per game.
Nobody is selfish, and they move the ball around really well. Leading scorer Keldon Johnson doesn’t look like a freshman, and everyone on the team is lengthy and rebounds the ball well. But they still aren’t a shooting team and rely mostly on two’s. That reduces their chances at blowing opponents out, and they haven’t beaten a single team ranked inside the top 140 by Kenpom by more than 13 points. As such, this line seems a little inflated against a decent Vanderbilt team.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I like Vanderbilt a lot here. They’re pretty underrated, and Kentucky’s style of play doesn’t lend itself well to blowing opponents out. The only teams they’ve really beaten up on have been bottom tier teams, and they play close games when they play power conference decent teams. Vanderbilt won’t win, but they should be able to keep it in the single digits.
Prediction: Vanderbilt +13
Full-Game Total Pick
I also like the over a lot here. Neither team plays at a slow pace, and both teams’ strengths are their offenses. The over is 4-0 in Kentucky’s last four conference games, and I expect that trend to continue here. Kentucky has scored at least 75 points in ten of their last 11 games, and I think they’ll be good for 80 at the very least here.