No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Northern Kentucky Preview
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse— Indianapolis, Indiana
When: Friday, March 17, 2017, 9:40 PM ET
TV Broadcast: CBS
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Betting on the Kentucky Wildcats (-20)
The Kentucky Wildcats will head into the national tournament with momentum on their side after capturing the SEC Tournament title in emphatic fashion at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday. Kentucky eased past Arkansas, 82-65, in the final to grab its third consecutive SEC Tournament championship. It was a historic victory for the Wildcats who now have 30 tournament titles to go along with their 48 regular season championships.
De’Aaron Fox starred for the Wildcats in the final, finishing with 18 points in 26 minutes of action. Fox was phenomenal the entire SEC tourney, scoring a total of 66 points on 21-of-34 shooting from the field to earn Most Valuable Player honors. Fox’s emergence as well as the excellent play of fellow freshman phenom Malik Monk (20.4 PPG) makes Kentucky one of the teams to beat in this year’s national tournament. The Wildcats are pegged at +1,000 to win the Big Dance.
Kentucky will open its campaign this coming Friday against surprise package Northern Kentucky. Expect the Wildcats’ experience to shine through in this matchup. Kentucky has won the NCAA Tourney eight times, has advanced to the Final Four 17 times and is making its 56th trip to the Big Dance. Head coach John Calipari has the Wildcats peaking at exactly the right time, with Kentucky winning each of its last 11 games.
Kentucky is 5-4-1 ATS in its last 10 games.
Betting on the Northern Kentucky Norse (+20)
The Northern Kentucky Norse booked a spot in the national tournament with a thrilling 59-53 win over the Milwaukee Panthers in the Horizon League championship game. It was the sixth consecutive victory for the Norse who earned their first NCAA Tournament berth in their first season of eligibility. It has been a remarkable turnaround for the Norse who posted their first winning season since 2011-2012 and posted the program’s most wins since 2008.
The Norse will look to keep the momentum going when they take on No. 2 Kentucky in the first round this coming Friday. Facing the SEC champions might be a daunting task for the Norse but they will still fancy their chances of recording a major shock because of their phenomenal outside shooting. Northern Kentucky led the Horizon League in 3-pointers made per game with 8.7.
Four players are averaging in double-figures for the Norse this season, namely Drew McDonald (16.4 PPG), Lavone Holland II (14.3 PPG), Carson Williams (10.5 PPG) and Cole Murray (10.2 PPG). For the Norse to stand a chance against Kentucky, they will need all four players to shoot the lights out right from the get-go. They will be severely tested, though, by a Kentucky side that’s 10th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing just 91.9 points per 100 possessions.
Northern Kentucky is pegged at +100,000 to win the national title.
Kentucky (-20) not only wins but also covers the spread against Northern Kentucky.
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