This may be the most interesting spread of the day. Buffalo is coming off a blowout against Arizona and got some respect from the bookmakers, even against Kentucky. The Wildcats were only -6 point favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Boise.
The Bulls were the early story of the Tournament after dismantling 4-seed Arizona on Thursday, winning 89-68. Just as bad as the score is that Buffalo led for almost the entire Game. Kentucky dealt with a difficult 12-seed and escaped with a win, although it never looked in doubt. The more interesting part may be that Buffalo was a 9-point underdog against Arizona and Kentucky was a -4.5 point favorite against Davidson.
That result was surprising for the Bulls because they never looked like a team that could pull off the upset earlier in the season. They fell to every Tournament team they faced from Cincy to Syracuse and Texas A&M. But on Thursday, everything they put up went in. The Bulls went 15-of-30 from the three-point line as three different guys scored at least 19 points and another had 13. None of that was a surprise for Buffalo, though, as it has Four guys that average at least 15 points per Game.
However, there’s a glaring issue with Buffalo’s three-point shooting in that Kentucky has had one of the best three-point defenses in the country all season, giving up just 30 percent. The Wildcats kept a dynamic Davidson offense in check last Game and will try and do the season against Buffalo. If the threes aren’t falling, that will be a problem for the Bulls.
Looking at the matchups, Buffalo won’t be able to stretch the floor as easily as it did against Arizona and its two 7-footers. Kentucky is filled with length and athleticism at just about every position. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may be the lengthiest point guard in the country at 6-foot-6 and guys like Kevin Knox, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Wenyen Gabriel provide size, but also have the ability to defend out on the perimeter. All of those things are almost opposite of Arizona and that’s why Kentucky is in a good position to win and possibly cover.
On the other end, the Bulls have a decent defense that ranked high in the MAC, although that doesn’t mean much. They still don’t force turnovers, which is Kentucky’s main offensive problem. If Buffalo doesn’t force turnovers, it will have problems defending almost everyone. Gilgeous-Alexander has size over anyone that will guard him as Buffalo will almost always have three guys on the cOurt at 6-foot-3 and under. And if Knox plays like he did against Davidson, Buffalo has no one that can stop him.
The only reason to go with Buffalo is that it’s coming off a high and just destroyed Arizona. It has guys that can score, but it’s offensive strength also happens to be Kentucky’s defensive strength That worked last Game, but Arizona had defensive issues all season. The Bulls will be a fun team to bet on, but in the end, the numbers don’t support them.
Our Pick – Kentucky -5.5