Pick with Analysis
The undefeated run for Kentucky continues as they come into this Game with a 23-0 record. The second-best team in the SEC is still undecided with a number of teams challenging for that spot, including LSU.
These teams only play once this year, which is probably the best thing for LSU, and at least this one is at home. Kentucky won two of their three matchups last year, but the Tigers did come away with a home win. Can they give the Wildcats their first loss this year?
LSU already has two home losses on the year, to Texas A&M and lowly Auburn, not quite the best results for a team looking to beat Kentucky. Still, Kentucky is on everyone’s radar at this point and there’s no doubt LSU will give it all to get this win. However, what has been the case for every other team, that probably won’t be enough.
Kentucky has had some close calls on the road, most recently a 68-61 win at Florida, but the Gators had the lead for the entire first half and fought throughout the second. But in the end, they just didn’t have enough against a better and deeper squad.
Last year, LSU won with its size and Johnny O’Bryant III, who notched 29 points and nine rebounds. This year, it will be the duo of Jordan Mickey (17ppg, 11rpg) and Jarell Martin (16ppg, 9rpg) leading the way. Those two will need to have huge Games in order for the Tigers to have a chance. Mickey is averaging 24 points and 15 boards over the last three Games, granted two of those have resulted in losses. against probably the biggest team they’ve faced this season, it’ll be quite the battle in the paint with Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns among others.
Staying out of foul trouble will also be huge because LSU isn’t built like Kentucky. They only really use six guys each Game, with the five starters all averaging at least 28.5 minutes with three getting at least 35 minutes per Game. Another positive for LSU is that they have size at the guard position to deal with the Harrison twins as well as what they bring off the bench. However, it’s still going to require a guy like Keith Hornsby or Tim Quarterman to catch fire in order for LSU to pull out the upset.
The Tigers have the tools to keep the Game close, but getting the outright win is another story as Florida found out over the weekend. Aaron Harrison took over against the Gators and ended up with 23 points. He only had one point in Kentucky’s previous win if that says anything.
While LSU can deal with the size of Kentucky, dealing with their depth and any number of guys that can be factors is another issue. That’s why it will be vital for LSU to stay out of foul trouble. If any of the Tigers reach that point, it’ll be that much harder to stay close.
Much like the Florida Game, this one could come down to how LSU finishes. If Mickey and Martin are having success down low, that could be the decider, however, no one has been able to do that all season against the Wildcats. While the Tigers can keep it close, they’ll need help from the guard spot to really scare Kentucky.
Our Prediction – This is being written on Monday morning, so, no line posted as of this writing. However, Our model has Kentucky winning by 23 points so we’ll go ahead and lay the points with the Wildcats in this one!