Bellarmine vs. Kentucky Odds, Picks: How to Bet This In-State Duel
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images. Pictured: Scott Davenport (Bellarmine)
Bellarmine vs. Kentucky Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
It’s been a tough road for the Bellarmine Knights ever since they upset Louisville to begin the season. Bellarmine has gone just 1-5 since, with its one win coming against a non D-I school.
However, it’s worth mentioning the level of competition that the Knights have faced. Bellarmine has gone up against Clemson, Duke, Loyola Marymount and UCLA.
And while it may be closer to home, Tuesday night’s matchup with Kentucky will be its toughest yet.
The Wildcats have lost games to Michigan State and Gonzaga, but when it comes to every other opponent so far this season, they’ve won by an average of 35 points. Their most recent win came against an opponent from Bellarmine’s own ASUN Conference, which they beat by 40.
Will it be another 30-point win over an inferior opponent for Kentucky? Or does Bellarmine show up in a big way against another in-state Power Five opponent just as it did against Louisville?
First and foremost, Kentucky is not going to be anything like Louisville — the Cardinals have still yet to win a game.
Now, Bellarmine did manage to keep things close against both Clemson and Duke for the majority of those games.
The key reason for that: neither of those teams push the pace. Clemson ranks 264th in Adjusted Tempo while Duke is 307th.
That won’t be the case against a Kentucky team that ranks 77th in Adjusted Tempo and 14th in offensive possession length.
The Bellarmine defense has been all but non-existent, ranking 306th in Defensive Adjusted Efficiency. Yes, it’s been due to the elite competition the Knights have faced, but they will be up against that same level of competition when they face Kentucky.
One key factor the Knights will need to focus on if they want to keep things somewhat close against the Cats is their fouling. Bellarmine is averaging 18.8 fouls per contest and had 20 against UCLA. Getting in foul trouble against Kentucky makes this an even harder hill to overcome than it already is.
Kentucky made quick work of North Florida, but the Ospreys had no problem going right along with the Wildcats’ pace.
UK won’t see that same high-volume pace against Bellarmine. And I highly doubt the Wildcats will see the Knights hit just 47% of their free throws if they reach the line as much as North Florida did.
Foul trouble can’t continue to be an issue for Kentucky, though it’s more expected against teams like Michigan State and Gonzaga. Its 19 fouls against North Florida was seriously concerning — given that it has committed no more than 13 fouls against the other three teams it faced at home this season.
The game against North Florida was never in jeopardy, but Kentucky gave up four turnovers that turned into 12 points for its opponent. The Wildcats only out-rebounded North Florida by 15, and the Osprey had eight second-chance points.
Also, Kentucky hit just 22.2% of its 3-points attempts in the second half.
If you take away the free throws for both teams, Kentucky outscored North Florida by just one point in the second half.
While all these things didn’t affect the outcome of that particular game, they can make all the difference when we’re talking about a 25-point spread.
Bellarmine vs. Kentucky Betting Pick
Kentucky has been a favorite of 20 or more four times this season and has covered in each matchup by an average of just over six points. Bellarmine, meanwhile, has been an underdog of 20+ points twice so far this season and has covered both times by an average of 4.5 points.
The deciding factor in this game for me, though, is on the sideline, and that’s Scott Davenport. He’s one of the most underrated coaches in college basketball and moreover, he’s a basketball legend in the state of Kentucky.
Davenport has guided this team from Division II all the way to the ASUN Championship a season ago. Taking on blue bloods is nothing new to him or his team — the Knights have done it every year since the beginning of their transition to Division I.
But if you think that a game vs. a blue blood team in their own state doesn’t mean a little more than matchups with UCLA or Duke, I don’t know what else to tell you.
I’m not saying I think Bellarmine is going to beat Kentucky, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind it’ll give everything until the final buzzer sounds.
I’ll be backing the Knights at +24 or better.