South Region Betting Action: #16 Western Kentucky vs. #1 Kentucky

Anthony Davis has been called the best shot blocker of the last 20 years by coach John Calipari
#16 Western Kentucky vs. #1 Kentucky
Tip off: 6:50 PM EST
Spread: KY -25
Total: 135

Bet at Bookmaker, the source of these college basketball betting odds

Western Kentucky

It’s never a fun proposition to play a #1 seed in the first round. No #16 seed has ever advanced, and judging from the line set by college basketball oddsmakers, this one will not be anywhere near an exception to that rule.

The Hilltoppers won their play-in game to enter the tournament, but they finished with only a 7-9 conference record in the Sun Belt, and they didn’t even finish .500 for the year, finishing 16-18. Truthfully, they couldn’t make it out of the first round of the NIT, but we see this every year.

If nothing else, the Hilltoppers have depth. They employ a 10 man rotation and no player scores over 11.8 per game (Derrick Gordon). Gordon is also the only Hilltopper to see more than 30 minutes of action a night. For as good as Gordon has been at times, he has also been very inconsistent. He’s had a number of big games (4 over 20+ points), but find a way to accent those games with nights where he just disappears. Over a three game stretch against South Alabama, Mid Tennessee, and Troy, he shot a combined 6 of 31 from the floor. If for no other reason, the freshman’s inconsistency kills what little chance the Hilltoppers had of even making this a close game.

Then there is also this: The Hilltoppers have won their last 7 games going into this tournament. None were against particularly good teams at all, as 6 of the 7 were against Sun Belt foes, but they are hot. Their only matchup against a ranked opponent came in a 10 point loss to Louisville on December 23rd.

Hilltoppers Betting Trends:

Western KY is 13-9 ATS as an underdog. They are 18-15 ATS this season. 5-3 ATS in neutral court games and 3-3 ATS when allowing 60 points or more. 0-1 ATS in NCAA tournament games, and 6-6 ATS against teams with winning records. Since 1997, the Hilltoppers are 49-42 when the total is 130 to 139.5. The Hilltoppers are 5-1 ATS vs teams allowing less than 64 points per game.


As most already realize, the 32-2 Wildcats are the tournament favorite. At 32-2, their only losses have come to Indiana and Vanderbilt, though the loss to Vandy was in the SEC championship just last week. It was a bad way to enter the tournament, but maybe some feel that it’s best to get the loss out of the way now since the Cats hadn’t lost since December 10th (the Hoosiers game).

The Wildcats use a balanced attack centered, with all starters nearly averaging double figures (starting point guard Marquis Teague is at 9.4 per game). Anthony Davis has emerged as the consensus #1 overall pick this June in the NBA Draft, and he’s blocking an astounding 4.6 shots per game. His interior defense is one of the main reasons for the Wildcats’ success this year. His 14.3 points per game also lead the team.

Sophomore guard Doron Lamb will also be counted upon heavily. The 6’4″ sophomore is averaging a second best on the team 13.2 points per game. Lamb has scored in double figures in 24 of the 34 Kentucky games, but struggled badly with a 2-11 shooting night against Vanderbilt in the SEC Championship.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist must become more involved in the offense. Kidd-Gilchrist has attempted no more than 8 shots in the Wildcats’ last five games, yet has hit 16 of his 29 field goal attempts over that span. It’s not that he’s shooting less (8.1 attempts per game on the season), it’s just that he could make a greater impact, and possibly will, if they can get him more involved in this run. He’s likely a one and done, so this is his big chance to help his draft stock.

Wildcats Betting Trends:

Kentucky is 13-20 ATS this season and 2-5 ATS in neutral court games. They are 9-9 ATS following a conference game and 3-7 ATS after failing to cover the spread for three straight games. Since 1997, the Wildcats are 246-228 ATS and the total has gone UNDER 22 of 32 times this season. It has gone UNDER in 15 of the 18 games in which the spread was set between 130 and 139.5. The total has also gone UNDER in 6 of the last 7 neutral court games.

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