Missouri vs Kentucky Odds, Pick for Tuesday

Missouri vs Kentucky Odds, Pick for Tuesday article feature image
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(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Pictured: Antonio Reeves

Missouri vs Kentucky Odds, Pick

Tuesday, Jan. 9
7 p.m. ET
ESPN
Missouri Odds
Point SpreadTotalMoneyline
+13.5
-115
159.5
-110o / -110u
+600
Kentucky Odds
Point SpreadTotalMoneyline
-13.5
-105
159.5
-110o / -110u
-900
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAB odds here.

Fresh off an impressive road win over Florida, the Kentucky Wildcats return home to face a Missouri team that earned its first NCAA Tournament win since 2009 last season. However, this year's Missouri team looks much different without the help of NBA talent Kobe Brown, who graduated and now plays for the Clippers.

There is no question that Kentucky is the superior team in this matchup. The question will be whether a young Wildcats team will have the focus required to separate themselves from a much less talented team in what could be a sleepy spot.


Missouri Tigers

When Dennis Gates took over at Missouri, the Tigers made a full shift in roster makeup to match a style of play Gates prefers. Since his days at Cleveland St., Gates has leaned into the analytical approach, which emphasizes taking 3s and layups without much in between. The personnel Gates had last year meshed well with his approach, leading to the most successful Missouri season in over a decade. This year, however, the Tigers have regressed.

Sean East, Noah Carter and Nick Honor are the primary carryovers from last year's team. All three are capable perimeter shooters if asked to be role pieces with limited shooting volume. Unfortunately, none of the offseason additions Gates brought in have been able to step into key roles, placing much more responsibility on East, Carter and Honor.

Missouri's most impressive win of the season came in late November at Pittsburgh. That victory over the Panthers is evidence that the Tigers' ceiling is high enough to compete on the road against a more talented team.

The Tigers will hope to catch Kentucky in a sandwich spot after the Wildcats beat Florida in Gainesville on Saturday and travel to face a tough Texas A&M squad this weekend. Given that Missouri followed the Pitt win by going 2-4 in its next six games, it's plausible to think Kentucky may be dismissive of Missouri.

The issue for Missouri is likely to arise on the defensive end. None of its five starters would be classified as quality defenders. The Tigers' backcourt will be giving up a ton of size to Kentucky. Missouri's best defender is likely 7'5" shot-blocker Connor Vanover, but he'll do little to help defend the 3-point line, where Kentucky can be deadly.

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Kentucky Wildcats

After an extremely shaky past couple of seasons, John Calipari appears to have Kentucky basketball back on track. Yes, there was the early loss at home to UNC Wilmington, but considering that the average age on the Wildcats' roster falls just above 19 years old, inexplicable losses like that sometimes happen. This version of Kentucky features an impressive list of freshmen yet and earned the respect of the fanbase with resounding wins over Miami, North Carolina and at Florida.

No one can say Calipari fails — or has failed — as a recruiter. Yet, not many seem to grandstand upon his abilities as a tactician. Fortunately for Kentucky, beating Missouri likely isn't going to require Calipari's most intricate gameplan. The experienced talent of Antonio Reeves and Tre Mitchell has been valuable in assisting the freshmen. Quite simply, the young weapons in Rob Dillingham, DJ Wagner, Reed Sheppard and Aaron Bradshaw have a multitude of tools that will lead to scoring against a Missouri team that isn't equipped to present much opposition.


Missouri vs. Kentucky

Betting Pick & Prediction

Kentucky loves to get out and run. The Wildcats will do their best to do so, even though they are facing a veteran backcourt that typically doesn't turn the ball over at a high rate.

Missouri doesn't defend well and will be the less athletic team at all five spots on the floor. Gates is a capable head coach and will likely emphasize the importance of not allowing this game to turn into a track meet.

In their only matchup last season, Missouri beat Kentucky in Columbia in a game that wasn't particularly close. I expect Calipari to remind his players of that result in an effort to motivate his team to remain humble. Kentucky may cover this large spread, but I also expect them to be able to score at will. Take the Wildcats to eclipse their team total.

Pick: Kentucky Team Total Over 87 (Play to 89.5)

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