The Kentucky Wildcats have an awful lot of talent, but as I mentioned yesterday in my pick, that talent has yet to convert into wins for the Wildcats. Kentucky was 1-4, having lost their previous four games, including a terrible loss at home to Georgia Tech, heading into yesterday’s game and I just didn’t feel like they were going to be able to turn things around against an equally talented North Carolina Tar Heels team.
I expected the game to be competitive early on but saw the Tar Heels pulling away late in the second half as Kentucky’s poor shooting from three-point land and their inability to rebound was going to catch up with them. I called the final score at 74-62, with North Carolina coasting to the win and cover. And after seeing the game play out, my assertions came true.
— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) December 19, 2020
The game was tight in the first half, and Kentucky actually took a 4-point lead into halftime. But in the second half, the poor shooting for Kentucky came back to bite them as they finished 3-13 from three and shot just 39% from the field. The Tar heels had been struggling with turnovers all season long, and as expected, this surprisingly weak Kentucky defense didn’t force many turnovers, and Tar Heels took advantage of it.
The final score ended at 75-63 North Carolina, eerily close to where I saw it ending up in my pick, and we cashed a no sweat ticket. The Wildcats have now lost five straight games and this team that came into the season thinking about a trip to the Final Four, is all of the sudden looking like a team that is going to be sitting at home in March. Things aren’t getting any easier for the Wildcats any time soon as they head to Louisville for their next game and then jump right into SEC play. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will head to the Big East for a game between Providence and Seton Hall.
- Providence Friars (4-2) at Seton Hall Pirates (5-3)
- Prudential Center, Newark
- 1:30 PM PST
- TV: FS1
The Seton Hall Pirates are looking to run their Big East record to 3-0 tonight as they host the Friars of Providence. Seton Hall had a rough start to their season, losing three out of their first four games, but they have righted the ship recently, winning four straight games. Three of those four wins have come against the top-100, and the Pirates are hoping to pick up another quality victory tonight over Providence on their home court.
⏰: 4:30 PM
📻: AM970, XM 388
— Seton Hall Men's Basketball (@SetonHallMBB) December 20, 2020
For Providence, the Friars just want to play a game. PC has seen their last three games canceled due to Corona Virus concerns, and they haven’t played since December 9. The Friars also had a slow start to their season, going 2-2 in their first four games with losses to Indiana and Alabama. But they did win back-to-back games before all of these delays and won on the road at TCU in their last game. Tonight will mark the first conference game of the season for PC.
Providence Friars (4-2)
The Big East is once again highly competitive this year, and the Providence Friars are expected to be right in the thick of the conference title race. While most people expect Villanova to run away with the league title, all 11 teams in the league are currently ranked in the top-100 nationally, so this is going to be a very tough conference to win games in. In a league that will be so tough, it is hard to know where the Friars fall in the pecking order in the Big East.
The Friars have ample talent, as David Duke is one of the most talented players in the league and leads the Friars in scoring at nearly 20-points a game. Duke is shooting a sizzling hot 46% from beyond the arc and has scored 28-points in back-to-back games. Of the Friar’s six Big East losses last year, four of them came on the road, and a win tonight in their league play opener would go a long way into seeing the Friars finish in the top half of the league standings and earn a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Seton Hall Pirates (5-3)
After the first two weeks of the season, it looked like Seton Hall wasn’t going to be able to recover from the loss of all-Big East superstar Myles Powell. But since then, the Pirates have really started to figure things out, and they have talent on the way as they just got transfers Tray Jackson and Bryce Aiken both cleared and ready to play tonight. With the Pirates gaining momentum and now adding talent, this Seton Hall team just might be able to repeat as league champs after sharing the conference title last season.
The recent four-game winning streak has been quite impressive as wins over Penn State, St. John’s, and Marquette are all going to hold up as decent ones by year’s end. Sandro Mamukelashvili is looking like a player of the year candidate right now for the Pirates as he has scored 30+ points twice in the last four games, and with the addition of Aiken, who was an elite scorer at Harvard, and Jackson, we should see a lot more good looks for Mamu moving forward with opposing defenses having more guys to worry about.
Who Do I Like?
Winning on the road in the Big East is an awfully tough task. There isn’t a single team in the league right now that isn’t going to defend their home floor well. These two teams split their season last year with the home team winning each game, and I see that happening again this year. These teams are just too evenly matched to expect road upsets.
This line opened up at Seton Hall -5-points. Kenpom has the game at 73-68 Seton Hall, so the books line seemed to reflect the data accurately. But the public hasn’t seen it that way, as they have mostly backed the Friars, moving the number a point and a half towards Providence. While that isn’t a huge line move, it does open up some nice value for a play on Seton Hall at home.
All of these Big East games are going to be dog fights. Neither team is going to back down or give up an inch. But now that the public moved this number from a sharp one to a square one, I am going to follow the data and back the home team. I think both of the new guys are going to fit right into this Pirates rotation and give them a lot of options to score the basketball.
Seton Hall was already playing solid offense as they are 26th in the nation in offensive efficiency, and I only see that getting better as this team gets their transfers up to speed. The Pirates have a lot of momentum and getting to catch Providence at a time where they are almost certainly going to be rusty after missing a couple of weeks of play, is going to be a major advantage. I’ll take the Seton Hal Pirates tonight at home, laying -3.5-points, let’s call it a 76-65 final score from Newark!