SEC College Basketball Betting Picks: #22 Kentucky Wildcats at South Carolina Gamecocks

#22 Kentucky Wildcats at South Carolina Gamecocks
Saturday, February 13, 2016, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Colonial Life Arena – Columbia, South Carolina
Opening Line: Kentucky -2 1/2
Current Line: Kentucky -2 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 149
Current Total: 146 1/2
Opening Money Line: Kentucky -145 / South Carolina +125
Current Money Line: Kentucky -145 / South Carolina +125

Kentucky is a 2.5 point road favorite against South Carolina in a battle for first place in the SEC.
Kentucky is a 2.5 point road favorite against South Carolina in a battle for first place in the SEC.

With only a handful of games left in the regular season, the SEC race is wide open. Eleven of the league’s fourteen teams are within three games of first place. There could be some separation Saturday as the leagues top four teams play each other. The 18-6 Kentucky Wildcats travel to the 21-3 South Carolina Gamecocks. Texas A&M travels to LSU Saturday. Kentucky, South Carolina and LSU are tied for first at 8-3, while Texas A&M and Florida are tied for second at 7-4. Six other teams are 6-5 or 5-6 in conference.

Kentucky has dominated the series against South Carolina 49-11, including 21-7 in Columbia. The Wildcats have won two straight games in the series including 77-43 last year in Lexington on Valentine’s Day. This is the only scheduled meeting this season.

Kentucky is coached by John Calipari. The Wildcats have road losses at UCLA, LSU, Auburn, Kansas and Tennessee, along with a neutral site loss to Ohio State in Brooklyn. Kentucky has won two straight games after losing two straight games. Kentucky has  neutral site wins over Duke in Chicago and South Florida in Miami. The Wildcats have home wins over Albany, Wright State, Illinois State, Arizona State, Louisville, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Florida and Georgia 82-48 Tuesday night. Kentucky has road wins over Alabama and Arkansas. Kentucky is 11-13 ATS and the total is 12-12 this season. The Wildcats were 13 point favorites against Georgia and the total was 139.

South Carolina is coached by Frank Martin. The Gamecocks have road losses at Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. South Carolina has also won two straight games. South Carolina has neutral site wins over DePaul, Hofstra and Tulsa in a tournament in the Virgin Islands, St. John’s in Connecticut, and Clemson in Greenville, SC. South Carolina has home wins over South Florida, Drexel, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Mississippi State, Alabama, and LSU 94-83 Wednesday night. The Gamecocks have road wins at Auburn, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. South Carolina is 16-5 ATS and the total is 11-10 this season. The Gamecocks were 4.5 point favorites against LSU and the total was 153.5.

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Kentucky is outscoring teams 78-67 this season. The Wildcats are shooting 47.5% from the field and 34% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are #35 in field goal percentage. Kentucky makes 66.8% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 39.7% from the field and 32.8% from three point range. The Wildcats are #32 in field goal defense nationally. Kentucky averages 38.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.3. The Wildcats average 13.9 assists, 12 turnovers, 6.2 steals and 5.8 blocks per game. Opponents average 9 assists, 13.3 turnovers, 4.7 steals and 2.8 blocks per game.

Jamal Murray averages 18.5 points, 4.8  rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Tyler Ulis averages 16.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Alex Poythressaverages 10 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He is questionable after missing the last two games with a knee injury. Isaiah Briscoe averages 9.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Derek Willis averages 7.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Skal Labissiere, Marcus Lee, Dominique Hawkins, Charles Matthews and Isaac Humphries will also get time in the rotation.

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South Carolina is outscoring 78-69 this season. The Gamecocks are shooting 43.8% from the field and 35.1% from three point range. South Carolina makes 67.1% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 39.2% from the field and 35.7% from 3 point range. The Gamecocks are #17 nationally in field goal defense. South Carolina averages 41.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 30.1 rebounds per game. The Gamecocks are #10 nationally in rebounding. South Carolina averages 13.7 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 7.1 steals and 4.5 blocks per game. Opponents averages 12.2 assists, 15.4 turnovers, 6.5 steals and 4.6 blocks per game.

Michael Carrera averages 14.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. Sindarius Thornwell averages 13.2 points, 5 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Duane Notice averages 11.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2 assist per game. Mindaugas Kacinas averages 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds. Laimonas Chatkevicius averages 9.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1 block per game. P.J. Dozier, Chris Silva and Marcus Stroman will also get minutes in the rotation.

Kentucky is 5-1 ATS against teams with winning records and against SEC teams, 5-2 in Saturday games and overall, 11-24-1 after allowing less than 50 points, 2-5 after a straight up win by 20 points or more, 2-6 against teams with winning home records and 2-7 in road games. The Wildcats have covered four of the last five games in the series and were favored in each of those contests.

South Carolina is 6-1 ATS after scoring more than 90 points, and against teams with losing road records, 14-3 at home, and against teams with winning records, 4-1 against SEC teams, 16-5 after a straight up win, 20-7 overall, and 9-4 after a cover. The under is 4-0 in this series overall and 5-1 in Columbia between the teams.

Kentucky is rebuilding this year, but might have turned the corner with blowout wins over Florida and Georgia. I am not sure that South Carolina shouldn’t be favored at home in this contest. As it is they are underdogs and I like them to pull off the upset in front of a sell out crowd.

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