Kentucky vs. LSU College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Why to Back Tigers in Top-25 Duel (Tuesday, Jan. 4)
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Will Wade (LSU)
- No. 16 Kentucky takes on No. 21 LSU in Baton Rouge as part of SEC play.
- The Wildcats have found their groove with a four-game winning streak that consisted of three 90+ point games.
- Keg breaks down this top-25 showdown and explains where the value lies.
Kentucky vs. LSU Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The Kentucky Wildcats will look to keep a four-game win streak alive on Tuesday night as they travel to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers.
Historically, John Calipari’s Kentucky squads have been known for taking a while before they become in tune as a team. But this year, they have been firing on all cylinders over their four-game winning streak.
Kentucky has rolled through its last four opponents, winning by an average 33.75 points per game over the stretch. These massive wins have primarily been due to the emergence of grad transfer Kellan Grady, who has made 23 of his last 31 3-point attempts.
However, the Wildcats will be on the road in a hostile environment for this matchup. Three of their last four wins have been at home, while the victory over UNC came in Vegas.
Kentucky has only had one true away game so far this year, that being an embarrassing loss to an inferior team in Notre Dame.
It will be very telling to see how Kentucky — which seems closer and closer to a team operating at its peak potential every game — fairs against its most formidable opponent since its first game of the season against Duke.
As I said previously, Kentucky has looked like a potential Final Four team during its current winning streak. It may be the best a Kentucky team has looked this early in the season in quite some time.
The Wildcats rank eighth in the country in points per game, currently posting 83.9 per contest. But they have been even better recently, scoring 90 or more points in three of their last four games.
Also, the shooting has gotten better and better every game, as the Wildcats are currently posting an effective field goal percentage of 54.6% while hitting 49.7% of their shots overall.
Kentucky has been one of the best rebounding teams in the country since the first game of the season, currently ranking No. 1 in boards per game at 44.9.
The most considerable improvement for Kentucky, though, has been its 3-point shooting.
Over the last four games, Kentucky has hit eight or more 3-point shots while drilling 38% or better in three of its four games. In the nine games, prior Kentucky had made eight or more 3s just one time and had not shot above 38% once in the previous six games.
Defensively, Kentucky hasn’t been bad, allowing opponents to shoot just 38% on average while limiting them to 60.5 points per game. But against LSU, the biggest goal will be keeping Oscar Tshiebwe out of foul trouble.
LSU is one of the best defensive teams in the country, and if the Tigers can stop Tshiebwe’s dominance around the basket, they could take over this game.
If LSU wins this game, it will be because of its defense. Head coach Will Wade currently leads the best defensive effort in college basketball.
The Tigers’ defense ranks first in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency and steal percentage. They are also among the top 10 in block percentage and turnover percentage, while they have been able to limit opponents to just 26.2% from 3 and an effective field goal percentage of just 40.9%.
Plain and simple: if Kentucky can break 90 against LSU — as its done in three of its last four — I will be doubling my NCAA championship future on the Cats.
However, I think it is more likely that this game will give us an accurate idea of how this Kentucky offense matches up against a strong defense. In adjusted defensive efficiency, none of Kentucky’s last four opponents ranked inside the top 75, per KenPom.
And while the LSU defense and how Kentucky responds to it will be the deciding factor, there is just as big of a question about the LSU roster.
Will Wade says Brandon Murray (hamstring) will be a gametime decision for Kentucky on Tuesday night.
“He’s done a little bit in practice. We need him … he’s a big piece of what we do.”
— Sheldon Mickles (@MicklesAdvocate) January 3, 2022
LSU had an embarrassing loss against Auburn in its last game because it is a young team that had yet to play in a hostile environment on the road. But without Brandon Murray, Eric Gaines and Xavier Pinson struggled to get anything going.
The Tigers are a good team — and they’re going to be a good team whether Murray plays or not. But without him, more will be asked of the young players who are still learning to work through the adversity of a team.
Kentucky vs. LSU Betting Pick
LSU is coming off of its first loss of the season, a 15-point defeat on the road to Auburn. The Tigers own the best defense in the country, and are returning home looking to bounce back from a game that made a lot of people discount their 12-0 start to the season.
While Kentucky has looked better and better every game, I haven’t forgotten just how lost it looked on the road against Notre Dame.
I’m not ready to back this Kentucky team on the road until it proves itself. That’s why I’m taking the Tigers at -1 and would back them as high as -2.5.