Saint Joe’s vs. Kentucky Odds, Pick for Monday
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Reed Sheppard (Kentucky)
Saint Joe's vs Kentucky Odds, Pick
Amidst a Feast Week full of neutral-site tournaments, Kentucky hosts the Hawks of Saint Joseph's on Monday at Rupp Arena.
Both teams have had a modestly impressive start to the year, despite each having a loss on their respective records. The Hawks will have an uphill battle if they are to pull off an upset victory on the road against a talented, young team in Lexington.
Below, we have college basketball odds and a pick for Saint Joseph's vs. Kentucky on Monday, Nov. 20.
Saint Joseph's finished eighth in the A-10 and had an overall record of 16-17 last season. Although those finishes may not sound overly impressive, the Hawks' result in conference was the best it managed since 2018.
The Hawks continued their perceived momentum with a 3-0 start to this season, buoyed by the play of returning junior guards Erik Reynolds II and Lynn Greer III.
The momentum came to a pretty shocking halt on Friday, though, when Saint Joseph's suffered a disappointing home loss to a less-talented Texas A&M-Commerce team.
Saint Joseph's and Kentucky have a common win this season, as both have soundly defeated D-I newcomer Stonehill in the early part of their respective schedules.
Saint Joseph's is a veteran team with more continuity on its roster than most teams have in the era of the transfer portal. The Hawks will likely view this game as an exciting opportunity to boost their resume.
Coach Billy Lange will be able to rally his team around the idea of quickly putting the Texas A&M-Commerce loss in the rearview by upsetting Kentucky on Monday.
From a roster makeup perspective, the Hawks seemingly have a chance to matchup admirably with Kentucky's talented backcourt. Reynolds, Greer and fifth-year guard Cam Brown are the strengths of Coach Lange's team.
The focus for St. Joe's will need to be avoiding turnovers that turn into transition opportunities for Kentucky, as the Wildcats are certainly unafraid to get out and run.
Kentucky quickly became the talk of college hoops after last week's Champions Classic. Of the four teams that took the floor in Chicago, many believed Kentucky's performance was the most impressive, despite the loss to Kansas.
The Wildcats were undermanned against Kansas, particularly on the interior. Hunter Dickinson was able to dominate the glass and create easy post-entry passes against a much smaller Kentucky team.
Tre Mitchell was the only Wildcat even remotely capable of matching up with Dickinson, but he was outclassed throughout most of the contest.
Kentucky has been without three players listed 7-feet or taller for each of its first four games. Freshmen Aaron Bradshaw, Zvonimir Ivisic and sophomore Ugonna Onyensu have all been unavailable for John Calipari this season, forcing Cal to play small lineups whether he would prefer to do so or not.
It seems Kentucky doesn't want to rush any of these young bigs back (minus Ivisic, who has NCAA eligibility issues), so I'm assuming none will be in the lineup in Lexington on Monday.
Fortunately for Kentucky, Saint Joseph's strengths aren't on the interior.
Kentucky has been pleasantly surprised by the early success of freshmen guards Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard. Both have shown an ability to score against collegiate defenses, despite their lack of experience.
Dillingham is still under close scrutiny and hasn't fully earned Calipari's trust. Cal has been quick to pull the trigger to bench Dillingham after a small mistake or poor decision.
Still, the most explosive scorer and talented shooter on the team might just be Dillingham, even over the obvious choice of Antonio Reeves.
Saint Joe's vs. Kentucky
Betting Pick & Prediction
Saint Joseph's most recent loss to Texas A&M-Commerce does concern me. Scoring only 54 points at home against an inferior opponent doesn't bode well for the Hawks' ability to put up points on the road against an athletic Kentucky defense.
Kentucky may lack size, but Saint Joseph's is not equipped to take advantage of that specific Wildcat weakness.
The Wildcats should be able to take over as this game evolves. Even if Saint Joseph's hangs in early in the game, I think Kentucky's talented backcourt will overcome the experience of the Hawks throughout the course of the second half.
Pick: Kentucky -15.5 (Play to -16.5)
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