KENTUCKY WILDCATS (22-8)
at FLORIDA GATORS (28-2)
Stephen C. OíConnell Center - Gainesville, FL
Tip-off: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET
Line: Florida -8.5, Total: 130
After eking out a narrow win against Alabama to avoid a three-game losing streak, No. 25 Kentucky will finish its regular season with the toughest of tests, as it visits No. 1 Florida.
The Wildcats have now lost four straight ATS (2-2 SU) as double-digit favorites in each game. They are an underdog in this contest, but they are only 1-3 (SU and ATS) when getting points this season, allowing a hefty 78.3 PPG to the favorites. Kentucky is 12-16 ATS overall this season, including 3-6 ATS on the road and 7-10 ATS in SEC play. Florida (12-12-2 ATS overall) hasn't lost since a Dec. 2 buzzer beater at Connecticut, rattling off 22 straight victories. This includes a perfect 17-0 SU record in SEC play, but the club is just 8-9 ATS in conference action. The Gators are also unbeaten in Gainesville (16-0 SU) where they outscore visitors by 16.8 PPG, but are a pedestrian 7-6 ATS at home. When the 'Cats faced Florida earlier in the season on Feb. 15, they led at the half but got blown out 41-28 after the intermission, falling 69-59 as three-point favorites. The Gators took excellent care of the ball that day, turning it over five times, while forcing their opponent to cough it up 13 times, and were much better from the foul line (22-of-28 FT) than Kentucky was (14-of-23 FT). Despite the loss, the Wildcats are still 10-4 SU (6-7-1 ATS) in the past 14 games of this series.
Can Florida finish unbeaten in conference play? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a stellar 59% ATS (250-173-13) mark, including a hefty 61% ATS (218-139-7) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is on an amazing Best Bets run of 26-4-2 (87% ATS) since Jan. 17, is at 74% ATS (51-18-2) since Nov. 26 and a robust 70% ATS (58-25-3) in Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave is 67% ATS (37-18) since in Best Bets Dec. 18 and 62% ATS (54-33-1) this season, while StatFox Scott is 64% ATS (9-5-1) since Feb. 16 and 57% ATS (49-37-3) for the season. StatFox Gary is 59% ATS (43-30) on Best Bets since Nov. 22 and 55% ATS (47-38-2) for the season.
Here is the Bet DSI breakdown for the key Top 25 games this week:
Kentucky has a strong offense that averages 76.7 PPG (50th in Div. I) on 45.2% shooting (130th in nation). But when the Wildcats struggle to score, they make up for it on the glass, where they pull down 41.7 RPG (5th in Div. I), outrebounding their opponents by 10.3 RPG. Defensively, they yield 66.5 PPG (81st in nation) on a paltry 39.6% shooting (25th in Div. I). Their star is freshman PF Julius Randle (15.4 PPG, 10.5 RPG), who has now posted a double-double in three consecutive games (12.0 PPG, 12.0 RPG). But he struggled mightily from the field in two of them, going a combined 7-for-22 (31.8%) in the teamís disappointing losses to South Carolina and Arkansas. He gets help defensively down low from sophomore C Willie Cauley-Stein (7.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG), who has recorded 2.9 BPG in the post. SF James Young (14.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG) is Kentuckyís top perimeter scorer despite shooting just 39.7% from the field. He has hit a rough patch during the teamís recent woes, going 9-for-35 (26%) in the teamís past three games, which includes a 1-for-11 performance (1-of-10 threes) in the teamís most recent game. But Young had a strong performance in the loss to Florida with 19 points on 7-of-10 FG. Twins Aaron Harrison (13.6 PPG, 2.1 APG) and Andrew Harrison (10.9 PPG, 3.5 APG) take care of the ball-handling duties, with Andrew leading the team in assists. Andrew dropped a team-high 20 points against Florida, adding a game-high four assists.
Florida doesnít win games with its offense, averaging 71.1 PPG (188th in Div. I) on 45.9% shooting (91st in Div. I). But its defense is among the best in the nation, holding opponents to 58.2 PPG (6th in Div. I) on 39.9% shooting, forcing 14.0 turnovers per game. SF Casey Prather (14.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG) is the teamís top scorer and is quite efficient with his close-to-the-basket game, hitting 62% FG. He led all scorers against Kentucky with 24 points, going 8-for-9 from the field while frustrating the Wildcats defensively with four steals. The other star that game for Florida was PG Scottie Wilbekin (12.9 PPG, 3.9 APG), who poured in 23 points. SG Michael Frazier II (13.1 PPG) joins him in the backcourt as one of the best shooters in the nation, hitting 3.1 threes per game on a 44.1% clip. Frazier is coming off 37 points and an SEC record 11 made three-pointers in Tuesday's 72-46 rout at South Carolina. Beyond those three, the Gators have a trio of forwards who may not be top-notch scorers, but are elite defenders and rebounders. C Patric Young (10.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG) is a defensive stopper at the basket while PF Dorian Finney-Smith (9.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG) is the teamís top rebounder. SF Will Yeguete (5.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG) is extremely flexible, and gives head coach Billy Donovan the ability to adjust his lineups to look bigger or smaller.