Florida vs Kentucky Odds & Prediction: Value on Road Underdog?
Pictured: Colin Castleton #12 and Will Richard #5 of the Florida Gators. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Florida vs Kentucky Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Florida travels to Rupp Arena to face Kentucky in a crucial matchup for a pair of teams striving to boost their NCAA Tournament resumes. The Wildcats are widely projected as an 11-seed, while Florida is on the outside looking in.
This will be an interesting situational spot for a Gators team coming off their biggest win of the season. On Wednesday, Florida was able to take down No. 2 Tennessee 67-54 behind a stellar defensive performance.
On the other side, Kentucky was able to rebound from its loss to Kansas by outlasting Ole Miss, 75-66. The Wildcats got off to a slow start, but were brought to life by a 27-point explosion from Antonio Reeves off the bench.
Antonio Reeves is FEELING himself 🔥
— CatsCoverage.com (@Cats_Coverage) February 1, 2023
This performance was crucial given the absence of guard Cason Wallace (leg injury).
To pick which team will rise above the other in the SEC standings, let’s take a look at the odds and make a prediction for Florida vs. Kentucky.
In his first season leading Florida, Todd Golden has quietly built one of the best defensive units in the country.
The Gators rank inside the top 11 in adjusted efficiency, effective field goal percentage, 2-point percentage, and block percentage. As a result, Florida gives up just 64.5 points per game (36th nationally).
The cornerstone of this defensive production is rim protection, which is led by senior Colin Castleton. The 6’11” Florida native has a 9.7% block percentage, which is 19th highest among all D-1 players.
What a block by Colin Castleton 😱 pic.twitter.com/AgdZj8ancJ
— Clayton Sayfie (@CSayf23) March 19, 2021
Castleton’s defensive presence will be critical against a Kentucky front-court, led by Oscar Tshiebwe, that has had success at the rim. The Wildcats have only had 4.6% of their field-goal attempts blocked, the second-lowest rate in the country.
Similarly, Castleton will play a big role on the offensive end against a Kentucky defense that has struggled in pick-and-roll situations.
Kentucky basketball got torched again in pick and roll and ball screen actions Saturday night vs. Kansas.
Bill Self estimated the Jayhawks got about 20 points out of this.
An example here with Sahvir Wheeler screened and Lance Ware caught in no man's land (1/3) pic.twitter.com/RBFipO4oqB
— Cameron Drummond (@cdrummond97) January 31, 2023
Overall, I expect Golden to use Castleton as his cornerstone to open up advantages on both ends of the floor.
This Kentucky team has been difficult to handicap because of their lineup inconsistencies.
That starts at the point-guard position. During their four-game SEC winning streak, the Wildcats found new life with Wallace, a freshman, running the point.
However, in their most recent game, Kentucky was without Wallace and senior Sahvir Wheeler rejoined the starting rotation, though Wheeler went down with an ankle injury early in the first half. He did return after halftime.
These injuries allowed an Ole Miss team that was missing two key contributors to hang around well into the second half.
That type of performance won’t result in a win against a Florida team making its opponents earn everything on the offensive end.
Overall, Kentucky has supplemented its offense by creating second chances on 37.5% of its field-goal attempts, the fifth-highest rate in the country. These second chances come largely from Tshiebwe, who has the third-highest offensive rebounding rate in the country.
Florida is giving up a 28.4% offensive rebounding percentage, which is below the national average.
If Kentucky is unable to create in the paint, the Wildcats will look to their perimeter offense, which has been led by senior transfer Antonio Reeves. Against Ole Miss, Reeves was able to connect on six of seven 3-point attempts and finished with 27 points.
Reeves will have to work for those open looks against a Florida defense that is only allowing opponents to shoot 31.3% of their shots from beyond the arc, the 26th-lowest rate in the country.
Look for Florida to turn this into a low-scoring grudge match.
Florida vs Kentucky Betting Pick
Although this is a good situational spot to back a Kentucky team facing a Florida squad coming off its biggest win of the season, there are still too many inconsistencies with the Wildcats.
John Calipari still seems to be trying to determine which offensive lineups are the most efficient and that’s not a good recipe as the Wildcats face Castleton and a Florida defense that has been masterful at exposing its opponents weaknesses.
I will gladly take the points given the Gators defensive production.
Pick: Gators +4.5 (Play to +3.5)
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