NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
Vanderbilt gave Kentucky all they could handle in Nashville earlier this month, but the Wildcats prevailed. The Commodores will have a much more difficult assignment at Rupp Arena this Saturday. Kentucky has looked like the best team in the country for most of the year, and most believe they have already locked down a number one seed. Vanderbilt is a talented team that is capable of quite a bit, but they are very inconsistent. Let’s take a closer look at this SEC showdown.
Vanderbilt has been knocked out quickly in the NCAA Tournament the last couple years. This year’s team is looking to accomplish a lot more. Kevin Stallings’ team is extremely athletic and they are dangerous if they are firing on all cylinders. John Jenkins and Jeff Taylor form one of the best backcourt tandems in the country. Both of them are really off guards, but Vanderbilt often plays with a three-guard lineup. Jenkins leads the team in scoring at 20.1 points per game. Taylor averages 17.3 points and 5.9 boards per game. Both Jenkins and Taylor shoot 46% from three-point range. Taylor uses his 6’7 frame to get inside at times, while Jenkins generally stays on the perimeter.
Vanderbilt doesn’t have much depth in the post, but Festus Ezeli is an athletic center who can score in bunches at times. The Commodores shoot 40% from three-point range as a team, so they are always capable of a big run. Defensively, Vanderbilt gives up 65.5 points per game. Kentucky is a tough matchup for them because of their size and length.
Coach Cal has his Wildcats playing some terrific basketball right now. This might be Calipari’s best chance at a national title. He has had some great young teams, but this team’s strength and athleticism on the interior makes them very tough to handle. Anthony Davis is having a monster freshman year. Davis is the best shot blocker college basketball has seen in a very long time. He already has 131 blocks this year. He also leads the team in scoring and rebounding at 13.8 points and 9.7 boards per contest. Davis is the best of the bunch, but this is far from a one-man show.
Doron Lamb shoots 49% from beyond the arc, and that really helps Kentucky stretch the defense. Terrence Jones has been a bit inconsistent this year, but he has been good of late. Jones has the ability to dominate the game when he is at his best. Marquis Teague was considered a liability by some at the beginning of the year, but he is coming into his own at the point guard spot. Kentucky holds opponents to just 36.3% shooting from the floor, which is the single best mark in the country.
Vanderbilt put up a good fight in Nashville, but I think the Wildcats will jump on them early and win this one comfortably at home.
Prediction: Kentucky 78 Vanderbilt 62
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