No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Saint Peter's | NCAA Tournament Predictions Betting & Preview Game

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s | NCAA Tournament Predictions Betting & Preview Game

This writer believes that No. 2 seed Kentucky will reach the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament and the Cats open play against No. 15 Saint Peter’s on Thursday in East Region action. UK is a heavy favorite on the NCAAB odds. It’s the first meeting between the schools.

How to Bet Kentucky vs. Saint Peter’s NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

Why Bet on Kentucky?

Kentucky (26-7) comes off a loss to Tennessee on Saturday in the SEC Tournament semifinals, 69-62. The Wildcats missed four 3-pointers in the final minute, with Keion Brooks, Kellan Grady, TyTy Washington and Sahvir Wheeler all misfiring. It was a fitting end to a frustrating day for the Wildcats. Kentucky shot a measly 34.4% from the field and missed 18 of 20 from behind the arc. Both of the Wildcats’ worst shooting performances of the season came against Tennessee.

Oscar Tshiebwe had 13 points and 11 rebounds to notch his 15th consecutive double-double and 27th of the season, breaking the single-season mark set by Kentucky great Dan Issel in 1969-70. The nation’s leading rebounder has 20 straight games with double-figure rebounds, longest streak in one season since Kevin Marfo of Quinnipiac had a 20-game stretch in 2019-20.  Tshiebwe has grabbed double-figure boards in all but two games this season. Has 993 career points, needing only seven to reach 1,000. Has 499 rebounds this season, needs one to be the third player in Kentucky history to gather 500 caroms in a season.

Kentucky won the rebounding 43-38, leading to a 10-3 advantage in second-chance points. UK has a 23-4 record this season when leading the rebounding.

Brooks Jr. led the Wildcats with 19 points, most since his 20-point outing vs. Vanderbilt on Feb. 2.  It is his 17th double-figure scoring game of the season. Washington Jr. had 17 points and six rebounds while also leading UK with four assists and three steals. It is his 20th double-figure scoring game of the season.

John Calipari has a rare blend of youth and experience this year. Tshiebwe, Wheeler and Grady lead the most efficient offense in the SEC. And Washington Jr. (12.8 PPG, 4.0 APG) is the freshman who finds ways to impact games even when he’s not scoring.

This is the eighth time in program history Kentucky has earned a No. 2 seed since tourney seedings began in 1980. In its most recent NCAA appearance, the Cats participated as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region of the 2019 tournament, defeating Abilene Christian, Wofford and Houston before losing to Auburn in overtime in the regional finals.  In addition to most appearances with 59, Kentucky holds the NCAA Tournament records for most games played (181) and most wins (129). The Cats own a 129-52 all-time record in NCAA action, with their .713 winning percentage the fourth-best in NCAA history (min. 20 games).

Kentucky is 48-10 in NCAA Tournament openers and has won 25 of its last 26 opening-round games.

Why Bet on Saint Peter’s?

Saint Peter’s (19-11) beat Monmouth 60-54 on Saturday to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament championship for the first time since the 2010-11 season and the fourth time in program history.

Senior KC Ndefo, who was named the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, was named the Tournament MVP after finishing the title game with seven points, seven rebounds, four blocked shots and two assists. In the tournament as a whole, Ndefo averaged 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game to earn MVP honors. The three-time MAAC Defensive Player of the Year now has 296 career blocks as he looks to become the first player in program history to reach 300 blocks in a career.

Juniors Doug Edert and Matthew Lee both also earned spots on the MAAC All-Tournament team. Edert scored 10 of the Peacocks’ final 12 points of the contest and finished 20 points in the championship to lead all scorers. The junior hit the biggest shot of the game with 46 seconds left when he rose up and buried a 3-pointer to grow the Peacock lead from two to five. He would go on to knock down five free throws down the stretch.

Lee, meanwhile, chipped in eight points shooting 50% from the floor and ended the tournament averaging 10.3 points per game across the three contests. As it has been all season, the Peacocks defense was suffocating throughout as they held the Hawks to just 23.5 percent from the floor and 15.8 percent from 3-point range.

It was the seventh straight opponent that SPU held under 70 points. It is now allowing just 61.8 points per game, good for the 19th-best mark in the country. Also on the defensive end, SPU is now holding opponents to just 38.3 percent from the floor which is the sixth-best in the NCAA.

It is the fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament for SPU after previously appearing in 1990-91, 1994-95 and 2010-11. The Peacocks are a #15 seed for the second time in program history after previously earning a #12 seed in the 1991 tournament and a #14 seed in 2011.

Coach Shaheen Holloway, a star at Seton Hall in the late 1990s, had struggled to get the program off the ground. His first season at the helm in 2018-19 was the program’s seventh losing season in eight years. But Saint Peter’s has made big strides.

Game Trends

  • Peacocks are 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 games following a straight up win.
  • Peacocks are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
  • Peacocks are 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 games overall.
  • Wildcats are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite.
  • Wildcats are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games as a favorite.
  • Wildcats are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games.

Expert Prediction

  • Kentucky 74, Saint Peter’s 59
 
 

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