NCAA Basketball Betting Pick: Kentucky Wildcats at Auburn Tigers
Saturday will feature a battle of SEC Conference opponents and fellow top-25 teams when the number 12 Kentucky Wildcats (13-3, 3-1 in the conference) travel to Auburn Arena to take on the number 14 Auburn Tigers (13-3, 2-1 in the conference).
For Kentucky, they come into this game having won 3 in a row including a 69-49 win over Georgia on Tuesday. On the season, they have faced two other top-25 teams, beating North Carolina and getting clobbered by Duke in the opening game of the season. For Auburn, they come into this game having won 2 in a row since losing to number 18 Mississippi 82-67 last week. Including Mississippi, they have lost to every ranked opponent they have faced (also including NC State and Duke). Kentucky and Auburn will square off Sunday with tipoff scheduled for 4:00 pm ET.
In this contest, the Auburn Tigers come in as 4-point favorites playing at home. The over/under for total points scored is set at 145.
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, both of these teams are capable of putting up big numbers. Kentucky ranks 48th in the nation in scoring (80.1 points per game) while Auburn ranks 18th (84.5 points per game). One of Auburn’s biggest strength is their ability to shoot the three. On the season, they are averaging 10.9 threes per game (5th in the nation). For Kentucky, they rank 29th in the country in field goal percentage, shooting 48.6%.
Defensively, Auburn currently ranks tied for 56th, allowing 66.5 points per game. For Kentucky, they rank 86th, allowing 67.5. One area where both teams excel is protecting the rim. Auburn is currently averaging 6.1 blocks per game (4th in the nation) while Kentucky is averaging 5.3 (good for 19th).
Kentucky Looking For Solid Conference Win
One thing you can always expect from a John Calipari team is plenty of scoring, and that has not disappointed this season. Currently, freshman guard Keldon Johnson is leading the team with 14.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He is also shooting 50% from the field and 38.9% from behind the arc.
Aside from Johnson, the Wildcats have 3 other players averaging double-digits. Tyler Herro (13.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists), Reid Travis (12.8 points, 6.4 rebounds) and PJ Washington (11.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.1 blocks) have all been solid contributors.
Another player to keep your eye on is Ashton Hagans. Even though he is only averaging 7.6 points on the season, last game, against Georgia, Hagans put up 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Auburn Looking For That Signature Win
Auburn’s dynamic offense is led by two upperclassmen in Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. For Brown, the senior guard is averaging 16.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He is also shooting 41.7% from the field and 37.8% from three. Harper, the junior guard, is averaging 15.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 6.7 assists while shooting better from the three (40.2%) than his shooting as a whole (38.7%).
Aside from these two, other major contributors include Austin Wiley (10.8 points, 6.1 rebounds), Chuma Okeke (9.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.3 blocks), Samir Doughty (8.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals) and Malik Dunbar (8.4 points, 3.6 rebounds).
Taking Kentucky And The Points
For me, this one comes down to how well Auburn shoots the 3-ball. If they can get hot from behind the arc, they could put this game away pretty quickly. Despite that, I am still just not completely sold on Auburn until they can prove that they can put away elite talent on a regular basis. They have struggled against ranked teams, and I think Kentucky’s offense will give them fits. I really think this one is a toss-up, so for my money, I am going with the points. Take Kentucky getting 4 points.
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