Davidson vs. Kentucky - NCAA First Round - 3/15/18 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Davidson Wildcats (21-11) at Kentucky Wildcats (24-10)
College Basketball: Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 7:10 pm (Taco Bell Arena)
The Line: Kentucky Wildcats -5 -- Over/Under: 142.5 See the Latest Odds
We have some South Region first round action on Thursday evening, featuring a battle of the Wildcats as #12 seed Davidson takes on #5 seed Kentucky.
The Davidson Wildcats come into this one as the #12 seed in the region after finishing the regular season with a 21-11 overall record, including a 13-5 mark in conference, which gave the Wildcats the #3 seed in the A-10 tournament, getting the Wildcats a double bye before logging wins over Saint Louis and fellow NCAA tournament teams in St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island en route to their first A-10 tournament title since joining the conference in 2014. Give Davidson credit for scheduling tough, as 4 of their 11 non-conference opponents are also in the NCAA tournament, with losses to New Mexico State, Virginia, North Carolina and Nevada early on. Peyton Aldridge led Davidson with an average of 21.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while Jon Axel Gudmundsson led the Wildcats in assists with 5.1 assists per game this season. As a team, Davidson is scoring 76.4 points per game on 48.3% shooting from the field, 39.1% from behind the arc and 79.7% from the foul line, the 3rd-best free throw percentage in the country this season.
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The Kentucky Wildcats enter their 5th straight NCAA tournament and 8th in their last 9 years as a #5 seed after finishing with a 24-10 overall record, including a 10-8 mark in SEC regular season play, good for the #4 seed in the conference tournament. Kentucky received a double bye of their own, before taking down Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee in the conference title game for their 4th straight SEC tournament crown. Kentucky had the opportunity to take on some of the best that the country had to offer, putting up wins over Louisville, West Virginia and Virginia Tech with their lone blemishes in the non-conference portion of their schedule coming at the hands of UCLA and Kansas. Kevin Knox leads Kentucky in scoring with 15.6 points per game while PJ Washington leads the Wildcats on the glass with 5.5 rebounds per game and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads Kentucky in assists with 5 helpers per game this season. As a team, Kentucky is scoring 76.7 points per game on 47% shooting from the field, 36.1% from behind the arc and 69.7% from the foul line this season.
Davidson is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 NCAA tournament games while the under is 4-0 in their last 4 NCAA tournament games. Kentucky is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall and 3-7-3 ATS in their last 13 NCAA tournament games while the over is 8-0 in their last 8 non-conference games.
I think what this pick boils down to is which Kentucky team do we see in this one? The Kentucky that looked solid against Tennessee in the conference title game and all throughout the SEC tournament? Or the young, inexperienced Kentucky team that had their struggles in conference in the regular season. The 5-12 matchup is one that’s always look at to possibly provide an upset, and my initial thought was that Kentucky would take care of business. However, the Wildcats boast 4 double-digit scorers, including Knox and Gilgeous-Alexander who shoot better than 75% at the foul line. The other two? Hamidou Diallo and the aforementioned Washington? They’re hitting just over 60% this season. I’m expecting a tight game throughout, and if it comes down to free throws, Davidson has a decisive advantage and could steal this one, so I’ll take a shot with Davidson and the points here.