Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:54 PM
Kentucky vs. LSU Best Bet
#25 LSU Hosts #12 Kentucky in Tuesday ESPN SEC Showdown!
Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari catches his share of grief and criticism from the media, fans, and gamblers but it’s a vastly different world that he works in now. The King of “One and Done” basketball has UK in the national Final Four conversation on an annual basis. The problem is that since he took over for the 2009-10 season the Cats have hoisted just one national championship banner to the Rupp Arena rafters and they have not been to the Final Four since 2015.
When you consider all of the hype about the recruiting prowess of Calipari the frustration is understandable. But the old school dynasty days of Adolph Rupp and John Wooden went the way of the dinosaur long ago. College basketball is now loaded with parity and highly capable big-time programs. One of those emerging potential powers is the LSU Tigers. Head coach Will Wade won the SEC in just his second season on the job last year and he has the Bayou Bengals in the thick of the race for a repeat. He also runs an exciting offense that would make the late great Tigers legend Pistol Pete Maravich beam with pride.
#12 Kentucky Wildcats vs. #25 LSU Tigers
Date and Time: Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 9 p.m. ET
Location: Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
College Basketball Betting Online Odds: LSU -2, Total 151
Kentucky vs. LSU TV Coverage: ESPN
Kentucky Wildcats vs. LSU Tigers Odds Overview
Kentucky is “old money” with gamblers as one of the most “public” and blue blood programs in the sport. The idea of LSU being good is still new to a lot of casual players. But sharps quickly caught on to Wade’s ability to build a top program on the Bayou.
Kentucky Wildcats Current Form
Lately Kentucky has shown good board value with three payouts in their last four games and four of their last six tilts have gone under the total. UK is now 20-5 straight up, 12-13 against the spread and 13-12 over the total. National rankings have the Wildcats ranked 81st for scoring offense and 74th for points allowed. Kentucky ranks an impressive fifth in the country from the charity stripe. UK failed to cover its last game which was a 67-62 win over Ole Miss as 10-point home chalks.
LSU Tigers Current Form
The Bayou Bengals enter this SEC showdown with a record of 18-7 straight up, 11-13-1 against the spread and 14-10 over the total. Overall national metrics have LSU ranked 10th for scoring offense but a disturbing 273rd for points allowed. It is that lack of defense that has cast the cloud of doubt over LSU’s chances to advance in the Big Dance.
Additionally, LSU has not been giving gamblers much in the way of value recently with just one payout in their last five games. That suspect defense has simply left the backdoor open far too often. The Tigers have stayed under the total in just two of their last 10 games.
Players to Watch
Senior guard Skylar Mays triggers the high-octane LSU offense with 16.5 points per game, which is his career high. Mays has had the hot hand with 23 points or more in his last three games. In last Saturday’s 88-82 loss at Alabama he scored 24 points and added nine rebounds.
For Kentucky sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley is their leading scorer with 15.0 points per game. Quickly is 91.5% from the free throw line. However, he has been held under 19 points in his last three consecutive games.
Junior forward Nick Richards is a key Wildcat as well. Richards is averaging 14.6 points and a team high 8.2 rebounds per outing. Of great concern is that he has been held under 17 points and eight rebounds or less in his last three games.
Against the Pointspread
Kentucky has come away with the cash in 10 of their last 15 away games. Six of their last eight road tilts cleared the total. By contrast LSU has paid in just two of their last eight home matchups, but the Bayou Bengals have covered the spread in three of their last four at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center versus Kentucky.
Kentucky vs. LSU Pick
The Wildcats have the deeper lineup, vastly superior defense, and more impressive recent board value. Defenseless LSU is not as complete of a team in this matchup.