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March Madness Betting Preview — Kentucky Slight Favorite Over UConn in Championship Game

One team is coming off NCAA sanctions that kept it out of the national tournament last season. The other team may have the best group of freshmen the game has ever known. On Monday night (9:10 PM ET), the Kentucky Wildcats take on the Connecticut Huskies at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX in a game where one squad will complete one of the great stories in college basketball in the last twenty years.

In the March Madness betting odds that have been posted at WagerWeb, the Wildcats are the favorites to be the first team with five freshman starters to win the national title:

Kentucky Wildcats -2.5
Connecticut Huskies +2.5

Over 134.5 points -110
Under 134.5 points -110

Kentucky may have gotten some tremendous last-second heroics from three-point land from Aaron Harrison, one half of the twin combo (with brother Andrew) who were part of the historic freshman class John Calipari brought in, but if you are looking for a team that will rain triples on its opponent, you will probably need to look in another direction. The Wildcats have only attempted an average of 15 per game, and they only had five attempts against Wisconsin in the national semi-final, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing at all.

In fact, WagerWeb patrons should know that it’s actually a good thing, because it reflects a philosophy that is going to serve this team well against UConn. The Wildcats know that their forte is to get the ball into close range for better shots, using their height and size, and they have done so successfully, shooting 50% or better in three of their last four games. While it is true that Connecticut has done a great job taking opponents out of their pattern of offense with the pressure that is imposed by their guards, they are also not a physical match for the ‘Cats inside, no matter how you slice it. Who really matches up well with Julius Randle, when they are defending? Not DeAndre Daniels, who might be his counterpart for most of this game at the power forward position. That much is for certain, and WagerWeb customers need to recognize that.

This is not to say that there aren’t a lot of things to like about UConn. They will use quickness on defense to try and keep Kentucky off-balance, and evidence exists that they can do it. They also demonstrated that when the opposition devotes itself to slowing down Shabazz Napier on the offensive end, they have other scoring outlets, not the least of which are Ryan Boatright (averaging 13.6 ppg in the tournament) and Daniels, who had 20 points against Florida and 27 points previously against Iowa State.

Maybe one of the differences here, for purposes of our March Madness betting discussion, is that while there may be a couple of “dead spots” in the UConn lineup, EVERYBODY can score with proficiency on the Kentucky side. EVERYBODY can hit the boards. Let’s not forget that the Wildcats were the second-best team in the nation at rebounding their own misses, and had more total rebounds than anyone.

It won’t necessarily be a picnic for the 6’1″ Napier and the 6’0″ Boatright on the perimeter either; not against the 6’5″ Harrison twins, who have “length” on defense. And don’t neglect the possibility of Kentucky going small and quick from time to time with six-foot freshman Dominique Hawkins, a superb defender who was Mr. Basketball in the Bluegrass State last season.

Here is a team that has all the talent in the world, and now that talent is maturing and has demonstrated that it has the “cajones” to handle any and all pressure situations. That’s tough to resist from a basketball betting standpoint.

At WagerWeb, you can get a 50% deposit bonus, subject to just an 8x rollover when you sign up, so come on board in time for the NCAA Championship game!

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