Wednesday College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky Betting Preview

Wednesday College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky Betting Preview article feature image
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Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: TyTy Washington Jr.

  • In what was a last-second matchup, Western Kentucky takes on Kentucky in Lexington.
  • The game was created due to multiple cancellations connected to COVID-19 issues, and it sees the Wildcats installed as a double-digit-point favorite.
  • Keg taps into his betting prowess to break down the matchup and deliver a pick below.

Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky Odds

Wednesday, Dec. 22
6 p.m. ET
ESPN
Western Kentucky Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+11
-110
143.5
-110o / -110u
N/A
Kentucky Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-11
-110
143.5
-110o / -110u
N/A
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

After a hectic week of COVID-19 cancellations and potential matchups thrown around with teams like Gonzaga, Florida State and Kansas, Kentucky found a replacement for its rivalry game with Louisville in the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

If Kentucky had been able to reschedule against a strong Power Five team, it would’ve been great for its resume and been an opportunity to gauge where this team is. But against a team with nothing to lose and a ton going on around its program off the court, WKU is anything but another “tune-up” game for the Wildcats.

Western Kentucky is a good team, with a lot of talent and an experienced coach in Rick Stansbury, who has coached and won big games in his career. The Hilltoppers are also coming off their best win of the season after beating Louisville by 10 points at home.

This team has rallied around the natural disaster that has affected the Western Kentucky area and can be a live dog on the road against Kentucky.

The Wildcats are also coming off of a huge win but are still unproven in my eyes. Will they be able to cover against a Western Kentucky team playing for more than just basketball?

When the Hilltoppers came to Rupp Arena last, they upset the then fourth-ranked Wildcats, 64-52, in 2001.


Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Western enters its biggest challenge of the season on a three-game winning streak, with two of those wins coming against Power Five opponents in Ole Miss and Louisville.

The Hilltoppers struggled early in their season, but after winning seven of their last eight games, they seem to have found their stride.

The Tops rank just inside the top 100 in both defensive and offensive efficiency, but it’s the offense that should shine and find opportunities to excel against Kentucky.

However, Jamarion Sharp will be the key on defense, as he’s likely to be one of Oscar Tshiebwe’s biggest (literally and figuratively) challenges of the season. Sharp is the tallest player in college basketball at 7-foot-5 inches and is also the tallest player in WKU basketball history.

Since he became a starter eight games ago, WKU has suffered only one loss, while Sharp himself has averaged 10.3 points, 6 blocks, and 8.9 rebounds per game. He also leads the nation in block percentage at 19.7% and total blocks with 58.

As a team, Western Kentucky is averaging 74.8 points per game while allowing the opposition to record 70.1 per contest. Kentucky will likely glide well past that number. The biggest question is whether or not Western can keep up with Kentucky.

If the Hilltoppers can make shots and run the game at their pace, there’s a chance they can catch the Wildcats making mistakes. Western ranks 99th in the country in adjusted tempo, per KenPom, while also sitting 55th in experience.

Meanwhile, Kentucky is a young team, ranking 256th in experience, per KenPom. It’s made mistakes in games this season and will continue to do so, but can Western take advantage?

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Kentucky Wildcats

John Calipari and his Wildcats looked as good as they have all season in their last game against North Carolina. The dominant 98-69 win was their first win against a team ranked inside KenPom’s top 100 and served as a great way to bounce back after an embarrassing loss to Notre Dame on the road.

On paper, the Kentucky defense appears to be one of the best in the country. It’s limiting opponents to an effective field goal percentage of just 44.5%, allowing them to shoot only 28.4% from deep and 45.5% from 2-point range.

But I think these numbers are somewhat skewed, mainly because Kentucky has played six opponents ranked outside the top 200, per KenPom. And of the good teams the Cats played, Notre Dame is one of the slowest offenses in the country, while UNC simply couldn’t get shots to fall and Kentucky couldn’t miss.


Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky Betting Pick

I haven’t seen enough from either of these teams to feel confident enough to lay more than 10 points in either direction.

However, whether WKU plays as it did against Louisville and Sharp can give Tshiebwe problems or Kentucky runs away with this game like it did against UNC, one thing I’m confident in is that 143.5 is a low total.

I think this game will move quickly. Either Kentucky will hit shots and pull away, or WKU can keep up and make it a fight. Regardless, I think these teams can get into the 70s or higher, and I feel confident betting the over in this game as high as 145.5.

Pick: Over 145.5 or better

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