On a hot streak, Saint Peter’s enters the 2022 NCAA Tournament, but it will face a stiff test on Thursday night against No. 2 seed Kentucky. Following a 60-54 triumph against Monmouth in the MAAC title game last Saturday, the Peacocks are on a seven-game winning streak heading into their matchup on Friday. In the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, Kentucky’s three-game winning streak was halted in a 69-62 loss to Tennessee. Despite the loss, Kentucky has been one of the best teams in the nation all year as they look to cover a large spread against a solid Saint Peter’s squad.
Saint Peter’s Peacocks Betting Preview: Peacocks First NCAA Tournament Appearance in 11 Years
This season, Saint Peter’s had a rough start, losing six of its first nine games, but the Peacocks faced multiple high-level opponents on the road, losing to VCU, St. John’s, and Providence. They rebounded with eight wins in their next ten games to start conference play with a 9-3 record. In February, however, Saint Peter’s suffered a three-game losing streak but the Peacocks answered the call when it mattered most, finishing the regular season and MAAC Tournament on a seven-game winning streak. On Saturday, they defeated Monmouth 60-54 in the championship game that saw Senior big man Walker Miller drop 15 points and six rebounds in the victory.
The Peacocks have been a poor offensive squad this season, ranking 260th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings. In terms of field goal % and turnover rate, they are outside the top 270 teams. Saint Peter’s has been strong on the offensive glass, ranking No. 69 in offensive rebounding percentage. It will be up against a No. 25 adjusted efficiency Kentucky defense. Saint Peter’s is led by guard Daryl Banks III, who averages 11.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, and forward KC Ndefo, who averages 10.6 points and 6.2 rebounds. Fousseyni Drame, who averages 6.8 rebounds per game, is the team’s leading rebounder.
Kentucky Wildcats Betting Preview: Oscar Tshiebwe to Lead Wildcats in Postseason
No. 2 seed Kentucky has one of the most remarkable credentials of any team in college basketball heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have lost only seven games this season, and impressively, all of those losses have come against teams on the tournament field. In SEC play, they went an incredible 14-4, tying for second place in the rankings. With a 77-71 win against Vanderbilt, Kentucky moved to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, but their pursuit for a position in the championship game fell short against Tennessee. Under head coach John Calipari, the Wildcats have more experience than usual, so that will be something to watch throughout the tournament.
They are one of college basketball’s finest offensive teams, ranking fourth in adjusted efficiency. Kentucky has been shooting the ball really well, with a field goal percentage of 43%. It does not make many 3-pointers and is ranked second in the 2-point distribution in the country. The Wildcats will face an exceptional Saint Peter’s defense, which is rated seventh in defensive field goal %. Oscar Tshiebwe, who averaged 17.0 points and 15.1 rebounds per game, is anticipated to win the Wooden Award, and this guy can just flat out play. Freshman guard Tyty Washington Jr. has 12.8 points and 4.0 assists, while guard Kellan Grady has 11.5 points and 4.0 assists. The bottom line is this team is dangerous and should make a big run in the tournament.
Betting Odds and Lines
MyBookie has the Kentucky Wildcats as the heavy -18 point home favorite, while the total number of points is at 131.5 in the latest odds.
Free Betting Pick
I like what Saint Peter’s has accomplished to this point, winning their last seven games and racking up some strong wins, but I don’t think they’ll be able to cover this spread on Thursday night. They have struggled against good teams in non-conference play, but none of those opponents compare to Kentucky’s talent and offensive potency.
Tshiebwe is one of the best offensive players in the country and will score on almost every paint touch he receives, which will lead to open looks for the SEC’s greatest outside shooting team. On offense, Saint Peter’s has struggled, making it difficult for the Peacocks to stay in the game on Thursday.