2022 SEC Tournament Odds, Predictions: Our Top Pick for Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky (Friday, March 11)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Oscar Tshiebwe.
Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Kentucky kicks off its SEC Tournament on Friday by taking on a surprising opponent in Vanderbilt, which pulled off an upset of Alabama on Thursday night.
The Commodores had a pretty average season, entering the SEC Tournament with a .500 record. This will be their third game in three nights, while Kentucky is playing their first. So, Vanderbilt could catch the Wildcats a little sleepy to start the game.
Kentucky is the consensus favorite to win the SEC Tournament and is projected to be a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament right now. However, if the Wildcats win the SEC and a couple of teams above them fall, the Wildcats could be on the 1-line on Selection Sunday.
When Vanderbilt Has the Ball
When teams face Vanderbilt, it’s an absolute 3-point barrage. In conference play, the Commodores shot a 3 on 46.2% of their field goal attempts, which is the highest rate in the conference. They’re also hitting over 37% of them, so it makes sense for Jerry Stackhouse to design his offense around it.
However, as you can see, they’re due for some negative shooting regression from all over the floor in conference play.
The biggest problem for Vanderbilt in this matchup, which was the case in the first meeting, is it’s going to have virtually no second-chance points. The Commodores are dead last in the conference in offensive rebounding percentage, while Kentucky is the best defensive rebounding team in the SEC.
The two defensive sets that Kentucky struggles the most in are pick- and-roll and isolation. Vanderbilt will not be able to exploit that because it’s 11th in the SEC in both of those categories offensively, per Synergy.
Vanderbilt gets to the free-throw line at the highest rate in the conference, which is great, but it’s shooting 67.3% when it gets there. Kentucky also allows the third-lowest free throw rate in the SEC, so Vanderbilt is going to be very reliant on the 3-point shot tonight.
When Kentucky Has the Ball
Kentucky finished the regular season ranked first in adjusted offensive efficiency in the SEC. What’s even more impressive is it achieved that with the second-lowest 3-point rate in the conference.
The Wildcats are also the No. 1 team in the country in offensive rebounding percentage — although it helps when they have the best rebounder in college basketball in Oscar Tshiebwe.
"Oh boy, this is going to be a finish."
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 5, 2022
However, much like Vanderbilt, Kentucky is due for a significant amount of negative shooting regression.
Kentucky has been struggling in a few categories offensively that the offensive rebounding has sort of masked. It’s 13th in the conference in terms of shot selection, 11th in free-throw rate and dead last in Rim-and-3 Rate, per ShotQuality. That’s a big problem because those are the two most valuable shots in half-court offense.
That means Kentucky is very reliant on midrange jumpers (22nd in the nation). The problem is the Wildcats aren’t even that effective on those midrange jumpers, as they’re sitting right at the national average of 39%.
So, even though Vanderbilt really struggles in half-court defense, Kentucky’s shooting regression may keep this game closer than expected.
Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky Betting Analysis & Pick
With Vanderbilt not being able to exploit Kentucky’s weaknesses on defense and the Wildcats’ poor shot selection — along with both offenses being due for a lot of negative shooting regression — I think we will have a lower scoring game than expected.
Therefore, I’m going to back the under at 143.5 points and would play it down to 142.
Pick: Under 143.5 (Play to 142)