College Basketball Picks: Portland Pilots vs. Kentucky Wildcats

Portland Pilots at No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats
Saturday, 11/26/11, 7:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN3
Opening Point Spread:  Kentucky -29
Current Betting Line:  Kentucky -29.5
Opening Total:  139.5
Current Total:  139.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Kentucky North Carolina NCAA Tournament Preview
The Kentucky Wildcats have dominated opponents in the early going this season

Portland travels to Lexington, Kentucky, to take on the Kentucky Wildcats inside historic Rupp Arena, which will be the school’s second-ever trip to the venue.  The Pilots will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak that includes an 83-69 loss to the UCSB Gauchos last time out as 13.5-point road underdogs.  It was an unfortunate defeat due to going in the break with a four-point lead, but the youthful squad was unable to finish it off.  The Pilots have four true freshmen who are averaging more than 12 minutes per game.  Portland is 17-7 ATS when playing on Saturdays.

The Pilots returned two starters and nine lettermen from last year’s team that finished 20-12, coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in school history.  Portland is led offensively by guard Nemanja Mitrovic and forward Ryan Nicholas, who are both averaging 11.8 points per game.  One of the main concerns heading into this matchup is the team shooting just 27.9 percent from beyond the arc, which is far different than leading the nation over the previous four seasons.

Kentucky is coming off a dominating 88-40 performance over Radford and won its 35th-straight home game under the direction of head coach John Calipari.  The Wildcats used the contest as a tuneup for games down the road, especially in teaching point guard Marquis Teague to take care of the basketball, turning the ball over just twice after committing 18 in the first four games.  “This kid is going to do whatever I ask him to do,” stated Calipari about Teague.  Defensively, the team has held all five opponents to under 34 percent from the field.  Kentucky is 10-8 ATS as a home favorite of 12.5 or more points the last two-plus seasons.

The Wildcats are led offensively by guard Doron Lamb, who is averaging 15.2 points per game, hitting 50 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.  Kentucky has four true freshmen that rank among the top six scorers on the team, as the group was heralded as the top-ranked recruiting class coming into the 2011-12 campaign.  Anthony Davis is averaging 4.4 blocks per game, helping the program lead the Southeastern Conference with 10.6 blocks a contest.

Bettors will likely back the Wildcats due to their 10-3 ATS mark in non-conference action, while the Pilots are 7-21 ATS as an underdog.

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