Kentucky vs. Florida College Basketball Odds & Pick: Bet the Wildcats To Cover
- Kentucky had a brutal start to the season with six straight losses at one point, but the Wildcats might be starting to turn a corner.
- Florida has been pedestrian on defense, especially defending the 3-point line, so can Kentucky take advantage?
- BJCunningham breaks down this SEC showdown on Saturday evening.
Kentucky vs. Florida Odds
After a tumultuous start to the season, Kentucky is starting to turn the tides and will go for its third straight win on Saturday at Florida.
The Wildcats have been dead and buried after losing six straight games in the beginning of the season. However, John Calipari’s squad is starting to play much better and get healthier. It will even get Keion Brooks Jr. — a former five-star recruit who has yet to play for Kentucky this season — back this weekend.
Grateful to be back on the floor with my brothers.
Our team doctors have medically cleared me to play. 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/UFaR07a0fH
— Keion Brooks Jr. (@KeionB_12) January 7, 2021
A win over their rival Florida would do wonders for Kentucky’s confidence and put them right back in the SEC title race.
Florida not having Keyontae Johnson on the floor is starting to take its toll. They were blown out on Tuesday by Alabama, who didn’t even have one of its best players on the floor in Jahvon Quinerly. They’ll need to put together a much better performance on Saturday if they are going to hold off Kentucky.
When Kentucky Has the Ball
The Wildcats’ issues offensively during their six-game losing streak were because they shot the ball horrendously. In fact, during their skid, Kentucky only shot 25% from beyond the arc.
In their last two games, its been much improved from deep, shooting a blistering 47%. However, Kentucky rarely relies on their points coming from behind the arc.
The Wildcats shoot 3-pointers on only 28.8% of their field goal attempts, which is one of the lowest rates in the country. Over 57% of their points come from inside the arc, which is the 28th highest rate in the country.
Now, it’s all well and good to rely on getting the ball down low, if you shoot a high percentage. That is not the case for Calipari’s squad, as they are shooting only 46.2% from 2-point range.
Ever since it began SEC play, Florida has desperately struggled on the defensive end of the floor, allowing 1.08 points per possession through its first three games.
Florida has a ton of length and athleticism to defend the paint at an elite level. They are top 10 in block rate, so getting inside the paint on the Gators is almost a death sentence. Where they’ve struggled is defending the 3-ball. The Gators are allowing almost 40% from behind the arc in conference play and 36.6% for the season.
One other area Florida is struggling with on defense is fouling. Opponents are getting to the free-throw line at a 42% clip, which is one of the worst rates in the country. So, if the Wildcats can get the Gators in foul trouble, they may just have a shot at pulling off the upset.
When Florida Has the Ball
Florida has changed the tempo from extremely slow, to up-tempo, which has quite literally had zero effect on its offense from an efficiency standpoint.
The Gators can beat you in a number of different ways because they do everything well on offense. They are top-60 in effective field goal percentage, 2-point percentage, and 3-point percentage, per KenPom.
They also use their length and athleticism on the offensive end of the floor to grab offensive rebounds at over 30% rate, which will come in handy on Saturday, since Kentucky is a below-average defensive rebounding team.
Kentucky, much like Florida, is going to win a lot of its games this season based purely on size and athleticism. The Wildcats are the fifth-tallest team in the country and they use that height to effectively deny opponents at the rim, as they have the fourth-highest block rate in the country.
Kentucky is solid in every other area on defense except for two, they struggle turning opponents over and they’re giving up way too many offensive rebounds. Florida is one of the most athletic teams Kentucky has seen all year, so the Cats need to be disciplined in their box-outs on Saturday.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I think we’re seeing the start of a run from Kentucky, and you can still buy somewhat low. The Wildcats are too talented to be 3-6 through their first nine games.
With how bad Florida’s 3-point defense is, Kentucky should get a ton of open looks, and if it shoots like it did in its last two games, it can pull off the upset in Gainesville.
I only have Florida projected as a -2.27 favorite on Saturday, so I think there is value in the Wildcats at +4.5 (-108) at DraftKings.
Pick: Kentucky +4.5 or better.