(7) Wofford vs. (2) Kentucky
Time: Saturday, 1:40 PM CST
Spread: KEN -5
Odds c/o 5dimes
Wofford went 0-3 this season against AP ranked opponents despite possessing a top-40 defense that held opponents to just 65.6 points per game. Wofford’s stats are skewed by the weakness of its schedule, but the Terriers have one of the best win differentials in the field. It also concluded the season by winning its final 20 games.
It is not accustomed to some of the adversity it will face in March Madness, but prevailed in its opening-round win over Seton Hall, extending the win streak to 21 games.
Wofford got it done with the triple. Fletcher Magee had 24 points and hit seven threes, and Nathan Hoover added 18 points and four made threes as Wofford shot 13 of 28 from three-point range in the game, and 48.1 percent overall. The Terriers did not look to its bench for too much, and it produced only nine points on a collective 3 of 9 shooting. Wofford’s fire is found in its starting backcourt, and it can launch from basically several feet behind the NBA arc. Sometimes the high rainbow arcing threes seem impossibly angled, but Magee is a super shooter off catch and shoots, screens, and off of the dribble.
Wofford was led this season by Fletcher Magee’s 20.5 points per game. Magee shoots 42.5 percent from three-point range and he attempted a team-high 353 threes this season. Wofford shot 874 as a team which is moderately high, but the Terriers connected on 41.6 percent of its triples this season.
Cameron Jackson and Nathan Hoover added another 14.6 and 13.3 points per game, respectively, and Jackson led the Terriers in rebounding at 7.5 per game. Jackson all struggled in three of the four losses this season. Jackson had only five double-doubles this season despite averaging 14 and 7, but Wofford fared just 3-2 in those games.
Kentucky had the distinct designation of dominating lowly Abilene Christian in the first round, and it took no time in showing why it was a heavy favorite as the Wildcats led 39-13 at the half. Keldon Johnson led all scorers with 25 points, while also grabbing six rebounds and shooting 10 of 16 from the field. Johnson averaged 13.8 points per game this season, ranking No. 3 on the team behind Tyler Herro (14.2) and PJ Washington (14.8).
Washington is the heart of the team as its best rebounder and only major rim protector (outside of Nick Richards who blocks 1.4 in just 12 minutes per game). Herro, Washington, and Johnson all shot 36 percent or better from three, and Kentucky shot 36.4 percent as a team while attempting just 547 threes on the season. Herro led the team in attempts (155) and makes (57).
Kentucky lost two of its final five games this season before the tournament, interestingly enough to Tennessee both times. The Wildcats are paired opposite of Tennessee and could collide again with it if both teams can make it that far. Will the Wildcats get revenge, or are we simply getting way too ahead of ourselves? Kentucky must focus on preventing Wofford’s shooters from getting going because once their backcourt has its confidence the shot difficulty can start to matter less and less.
ATS TRENDS (C/o Covers.com):