Kentucky vs. Wofford Betting Guide: Can Terriers Stay Hot Against Wildcats in NCAA Tournament?
Matt Stamey, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Fletcher Magee
#2 Kentucky vs. #7 Wofford NCAA Tournament Betting Odds
- Spread: Kentucky -5.5
- Over/Under: 141
- Date: Saturday, March 23
- Time: 2:40 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
- Location: Jacksonville, Fla.
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Kentucky (28-6) enjoyed an easy 79-44 win over Abilene Christian in the opening round of the tournament. The Wildcats won without their leading scorer, PJ Washington (14.8 ppg), who will also be out for this game with an injured ankle. The Wildcats moved to 18-15 against the spread with the cover in Round 1.
Wofford (30-4) defeated Seton Hall 84-68 in its first game. In that contest, senior Fletcher Magee broke the all-time NCAA record with his 505th 3-pointer. The Terriers are now 17-11 ATS, including an impressive 10-4 on the road.
Let’s take a look at which team will advance to the Sweet 16.
Can Kentucky Survive Again Without PJ Washington?
The Wildcats rolled in their first contest without Washington, but Wofford presents a much more difficult matchup. The Terriers rank 62nd in the country in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency and are also one of the few teams that can battle Kentucky on the offensive boards.
Wofford ranks 29th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage, which will limit one of Kentucky’s main offensive weapons. The Wildcats out-rebounded Abilene Christian 44-17, holding a 14-3 advantage on the offensive glass.
Wofford also excels at limiting its opponents’ efficiency from 3P, which becomes a bigger problem for Kentucky in the absence of Washington. The 3P efficiency for the Wildcats improved throughout the year to their current mark of 36.2% (85th in the country), but they only shot 28.6% (4-of-14) against ACU, which doesn’t defend the arc nearly as well as Wofford does.
The Terriers held opponents to 32.8% from 3P, which ranked 74th best in the country.
Kentucky will need a repeat performance from guard Keldon Johnson (13.8 ppg), who scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed six rebounds in the opening round win.
Wofford Will Not Be Intimidated
Head coach Mike Young challenged his team in the non-conference schedule to prepare his team for games just like this one. Last season, the Terriers won at North Carolina 79-75, this season the Terriers played admirably at Oklahoma, South Carolina, Kansas and Mississippi State.
Wofford had tremendous success against a strong defensive Seton Hall team in the opening round. The Terriers shot 46.4% (13-of-28) from 3P, led by Magee and Nathan Hoover, who combined to shoot 58% (11-of-19) from deep. Their offense is perfectly balanced, as illustrated by their third-best overall effective field goal percentage.
The Terriers will need to find a way to keep senior forward Cameron Jackson (14.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg) out of foul trouble. He is Wofford’s primary inside presence of the Terriers and needs to repeat his double-double (14-10) performance against Seton Hall. If Jackson stays out of foul trouble, his presence is a huge advantage over a Washington-less Kentucky team.
If you ask the casual fan who wins this game, the answer would always be Kentucky. However, the Terriers are the hottest team in the country and have played non-conference teams just as difficult as the Wildcats. This game is close with PJ Washington, but without him?
The Terriers have a good chance to win and an excellent chance to cover.
Mike’s Pick: Wofford +5.5, wouldn’t bet it past +5
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.