Kentucky vs. North Carolina Prediction: Don't Expect a Shootout in the CBS Sports Classic

Kentucky vs. North Carolina prediction and pick for Saturday's college basketball matchup on CBS. LightningLockz gives his pick here.
Lightning Locks |
Sat, December 18, 10:40 AM EST | 4 min read
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Kentucky vs. North Carolina Prediction: Don't Expect a Shootout in the CBS Sports Classic

We have a COVID game. This game wasn't even scheduled, but here we go. Both Kentucky and North Carolina, two of the biggest blue bloods, had matchups with Ohio State and UCLA, but instead, they will play each other in Las Vegas. Kentucky hasn't played in a week since they lost to Notre Dame from the ACC. So does Kentucky want to lose two in a row to the ACC? We will find out, but we are going with the total in tonight's beauty. 

Kentucky Wildcats vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Tide Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Spread: Kentucky -2.5

Total: 145.5

When: Saturday December 18 - 5:30 PM

Where to Watch: CBS

Click Here For Kentucky vs. North Carolina Odds

Kentucky vs. North Carolina Prediction

First off, both teams haven't had time to prepare for each other, so it's much easier to play Defense over Offense in a game like this. Both teams are playing on a neutral court where they don't know the rims, and this is an important game for both as conference matchups are about to start. As we mentioned, Kentucky is coming off a loss and now faces UNC, then Louisville, their big in-state rival. I don't think Kentucky wants a three-game losing streak which means defense steps up. Coach Cal has gone out of his way to deal with Sahvir Wheeler telling him to run the team because he was stymied against Notre Dame, and we expect him to play a little differently tonight. Let's not forget Kentucky has a dominant big man down low who will not make things easy for UNC in Oscar Tshiebwe, who leads them in points(16.3) and leads the whole nation in rebounds (14.4). UNC has a big man in Armando Bacot 14.3 ppg and leads the team in 9.8 rebounds. This matchup down low will be huge, and these guys will change the game into a more defensive game as well.  

Neither one of these teams are great in offensive or defensive categories but remember they have played a lot of cream puffs early in the season. Two particular games stand out as UNC against Michigan was a 123 point game with a total of over 151, and Notre Dame against Kentucky was 128 points with a total of 142. These are the kinds of games we expect today. Kentucky gives up 61 a game, and UNC gives up 71. Both shoot in the low 70s on free throws, which always helps shed a few points off the total. The bottom line is this total is set too high because of the names, not the play on the court. UNC is not the same run and gun team they used to be, and Kentucky is 291st in the country shooting 3's. This game has a few different totals currently, which is why you always shop around for a total and get numerous books to get the best line. The 146 is the line we see in the majority of places. With a bucket spread, pretty much we need both teams to break 70 barely, and we feel confident that both teams won't do it.

Looking at North Carolina's last few games, they had a top offense in Furman. They went under by 21, Elon under by 8, Georgia Tech under by 9, Michigan under by 28, NC Asheville under by 33. We feel we have made our point that the totals are incorrect because of the UNC name. When you are going under these numbers, the lines are off. You always have to look at both teams, so we look at Kentucky recently. The Notre Dame game under by 14, Southern under by 8, C. Michigan under by 6, North Florida under by 9. Not as much off as the UNC games, but these games were all blowouts pretty much, and in a blowout, you take different shots. Still, both teams are getting high numbers because of the name, and we need to take advantage of this public perception and bad lines being offered until linemakers catch up.

As we already mentioned, both teams are trending under with UNC five in a row and Kentucky four in a row, as well as the last three times they played games went under with less preparation. A neutral court with two dominant big men and these teams not being the offensive teams we are used to. There is only one way to go, and that's under 146. Enjoy this Blue Bloods game COVID has given us, and let's get some of that green today.

Kentucky Wildcats vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Pick

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