December 14, 2013

Basketball Pick: Kentucky vs. North Carolina

Matchup: Kentucky Wildcats vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

Date/Time: December 14th, 5:15 ET

Television: ESPN

College Basketball Odds from WagerWeb

Point Spread: North Carolina -3

Total: Off

It’s the first tremendously big weekend of college basketball betting action, and it is sure to be a doozy on Saturday. The North Carolina Tar Heels are hosting the Kentucky Wildcats in what reasonably could be a preview of a game late in the NCAA Tournament in March.

The Wildcats should have a huge rebounding edge in this game. F Julius Randle and F Willie Cauley-Stein are both big, dominating bodies in the paint, and F Alex Poythress can get in and bang some bodies around as well. This is a team with some attitude this year. There isn’t that pressure of being the most dominating team in the country, and a lot of these players remember the pain of being bounced out of the first round of the NIT last season against the lowly Robert Morris Colonels. Randle is the team’s leader in every facet of the game. He’s a good distributor of the basketball from the low block, and he is a prolific scorer and rebounder, averaging 17.8 points and 11.9 boards per game. Cauley-Stein is the defensive stopper, as he has 43 blocks in 10 games and is taking up that role of F Nerlens Noel on that side of the court from last season. We’re a bit concerned with how this team shoots the basketball from the outside, as there isn’t a man who can really consistently hit that assassin-like shots, and that might turn out to hurt the Cats in a close game.

It was only a week and a half ago that the Tar Heels really did their job by taking down the Michigan State Spartans in a big time way. However, we are pessimistic that this is a team which can keep this up. We don’t think that a home loss to the Belmont Bruins or a road loss against the UAB Blazers are necessarily accurate representations of the Tar Heels either, but we don’t believe they are the better team in this game. Defensively, this is a strong team, but the bottom line is that G Marcus Paige badly has to hit some shots from the outside. He just doesn’t have all that many friends on his team which can do the same thing, and we just don’t believe that this team can body with the bigs against Kentucky. F Brice Johnson is averaging 13.6 points per game, and F James Michael McAdoo is an NBA-ready forward, but this is a huge task in a big time spot.

Prediction:

These are the games which the Tar Heels are probably going to lose quite a bit this year. We think that win over Michigan State really skewed the opinions of the oddsmakers and the bettors, and we aren’t going to fall into that trap. The Wildcats are the better of these two teams, and that’s going to show on Saturday on Tobacco Road. Kentucky 78 – North Carolina 70

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Adam Markowitz

is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.

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