Featured Video from Scott Reichel
Where: VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville Florida
When: Thursday, March 21, 2019, 7:10 pm Eastern
The NCAA Tournament is here!! I’m the Flash and I’m so happy to be previewing this Midwest Region contest between Abilene Christian and Kentucky to be played on Thursday evening. Yes, it’s time to win “Cash with the Flash” and Abilene Christian comes into this game with a record of 27 wins and six losses and a second-place finish in the Southland Conference. Kentucky finished third in the SEC with an overall record of 27-6 and an SEC mark of 15 wins and three losses. Let’s go make “Cash with the Flash” and figure this one out!!!
Who is Abilene Christian???
You’re probably wondering how a team that didn’t even win a conference most has never heard of, reach the NCAA Tournament. Me too. ACU has an outstanding record and they did win their conference ending tourney, so here the Wildcats are. KenPom ranks the Wildcats number 145 in the nation with a strength of schedule as the 343rd strongest in the country. They did defeat UC Riverside earlier this season and lost their only matchup against a top 25 school when they were destroyed by Texas Tech by a score of 82-48. Abilene Christian hasn’t had more than a one-game losing streak this season and has had winning streaks of six and seven games this season. The Wildcats have an uphill battle with Kentucky, and the Flash salutes ACU on their fine season and a tournament berth.
— ACU Sports (@ACUsports) March 17, 2019
Abilene Christian will be without second-leading scorer Jalone Friday on Thursday afternoon. Friday was dismissed by the team for academic reasons and ACU has a record of 8-2 in games Friday didn’t dress this season.
The two sides haven’t faced each other this season, Abilene Christian has a neutral site record of 4-0 and is riding a six-game winning streak.
Senior forward Jaren Lewis leads the Wildcats in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per game with a team-high 6.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Lewis has met or exceeded his scoring average in each of his last five games.
Abilene Christian scores an average of 74.5 points per game and snares 8.8 offensive rebounds, 24.3 defensive rebounds and 15.6 assists per game this season.
Abilene Christian Head Coach Joe Golding had this to say about playing Kentucky Thursday evening;
“I think it’s awesome,” Golding said of the team’s draw. “The first time we’re ever going to the tournament, to play one of the blue bloods, one of the best there is. It’s just an incredible opportunity for our kids, our university.
”We’re going to get a ton of exposure just because we’re playing Kentucky. We’re playing one of the best coaches of all time, a Hall of Famer, the best players in the country. So, what a great opportunity for our guys.
We’ve obviously got a lot of work to do to try and get them prepared and ready. We’ve got a tough challenge. We’re going to be a huge underdog. We’re just little ol’ Abilene Christian; they’re big bad Kentucky.”
Wednesday afternoon Jaren Lewis and Hayden Farquhar were asked what stood out to them about Kentucky;
HAYDEN FARQUHAR: They’re big. They’re athletic. We’ve just got to block out and just play team defense, and we’ve just got to hone in on the defensive side, and they’re really big and they’re really tall, they’re really athletic, and we’ve just got to stay together as a team and just push through.
JAREN LEWIS: Yeah, I mean, obviously they’re really talented, a lot of guys with great skill levels, athleticism is really the big thing we look at, and they have that at all five positions. Really boxing out is going to be important. We’ve got to take care of the ball, and we just know we have to stay focused and locked into our game plan.
Stay tuned for more updates until tip-off time on Thursday.
Kentucky Looking For Big Tourney Result
Kentucky had an incredible season, finishing with a record of 27 wins and six losses and an SEC record of 15-3 this season. KenPom ranks the Wildcats number seven in the country with a strength of schedule of 22 in the nation. That’s probably why Kentucky was awarded a two seed in the Midwest Region. Kentucky has a 5-4 record against the top 25 this season and hasn’t had more than a one-game losing streak this season. The Wildcats also boast a ten-game winning streak and a seven-game winning streak this season, and Kentucky will settle for nothing less than a huge win over Abilene Christian on Thursday.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) March 17, 2019
The Wildcats aren’t listing any injuries for their Thursday game against Abilene Christian.
INJURY UPDATE March 20, 2019, The Flash
PJ Washington has been in a walking boot all week as a precaution. Apparently, he was injured in the SEC Tourney last week. According to UK, “PJ has been in a boot since Sunday for precautionary reasons. Any other updates we will have on-site tomorrow in Jacksonville.”
INJURY UPDATE March 21, 2019, The Flash
PJ Washington wasn’t on the team bus for their practice on Wednesday afternoon. Head Coach John Calipari had this to say about Washington.
Calipari on PJ Washington: "Sprained his foot in the Tennessee game. Had him in the boot for a while. X-rays negative. Sent to specialist. He wants to play. We expect him. He will probably be here in an hour or so. Want to make sure he can't harm himself but we expect him to play
— Vaughts' Views (@vaughtsviews) March 20, 2019
Injury Update 3-21-19 10:51 Eastern The Flash
The specialists confirmed our original diagnosis that @PJWashington has a sprained foot and there is no fracture. Once we determined that PJ was not going to play today, they put him in a hard cast for precautionary reasons. He is out for today’s game.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 21, 2019
The Kentucky Wildcats haven’t faced the Abilene Christian Wildcats yet this season. Kentucky has a neutral site record of 2-3 this season and are hoping to end a one-game losing streak on Thursday evening.
Sophomore forward PJ Washington leads Kentucky in scoring, averaging 14.8 points per game with a team-high 7.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 blocked shots per game this season. Washington has exceeded his scoring average twice in the last five games.
The Wildcats score an average of 76.7 points per game and snare 10.4 offensive caroms, 28.1 defensive rebounds and dish 13.8 dimes per game this season.
Stay tuned for more updates right up until tip-off time!!
- Under is 4-1 in Wildcats last 5 games following an ATS loss.
- Under is 7-2 in Wildcats last 9 non-conference games.
- Under is 7-2 in Wildcats last 9 NCAA Tournament games.
- Under is 10-3 in Wildcats last 13 overall.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Flash doesn’t like this game because that is too many points to lay but I just don’t have the confidence to pull the trigger and play Abilene. Kentucky is 17-16 ATS this season and .500 ATS when the favorite and that is slightly encouraging. Abilene Christian is 3-2 ATS when the underdog and I still can’t pull the trigger. With my fingers crossed I will lay the 22 points and play the Kentucky Wildcats on Thursday.
Prediction: Kentucky -22 Points
Full-Game Total Pick
I expect Kentucky to destroy the Abilene Christian side but I don’t expect this game to go over the total. This is going to be one of those games where Kentucky gets out to a big lead and let the seniors and walk-ons get some playing time to say they played and maybe scored in the NCAA Tournament. Abilene Christian does know how to put the ball in the hoop, but what chance do they really have of scoring a high total against one of the best defenses like Kentucky possesses? The Flash doesn’t think much.
When I did the math and added everything together, I came up with 131 points and thought that was too high. Make some “Cash with the Flash” and join me in playing the under on Thursday!!
Prediction: Under 132 Points