Missouri Tigers at Kentucky Wildcats -8
The Missouri Tigers are coming off of a route of Chicago State. Not exactly a good warmup for the #17 team in the country coming off of their biggest win of the season over rival Louisville. The Wildcats come into this with a clear size advantage, Missouri’s leading rebounder is guard Mark Smith averaging just 4.9 per game. They are going to be at a serious disadvantage on the boards. Kentucky can bring multiple bigs at the Missouri defense including Nick Richards and EJ Montegomery. Missouri will not get many, if any second chance opportunities while the Wildcats should be wild on the offensive boards.
This game will feature the 25th (Missouri) and 26th (Kentucky) adjusted defenses according to Kenpom. While they are both great on defense Mizzou ranks 117th in adjusted offense. Even if Mizzou is able to slow the game down, they are at such a huge disadvantage in size that is should be an easy win and cover for Kentucky.
Pick: Kentucky -8
Villanova Wildcats at Marquette Golden Eagles +1
I want to start by saying I love Markus Howard. One of my favorite players in the nation to watch. Problem is that his team doesn’t always show up the way he does. They have to face off against a Villanova team that is as hot as they come currently in college basketball. Winners of six straight including two wins over Xavier and Kansas. Villanova’s two loses came on the road against top ten teams Baylor and Ohio State. This game will be on the road but against a very different kind of opponent. Both of the aforementioned losses were against much stiffer defensive competition ranking 4th (Ohio State) and 12th (Baylor) in Kenpom’s defensive rankings.
Marquette is coming off of a loss to Creighton where they surrendered 92 points. They have to bring more intensity on the defensive end to stand a chance. Marquette will keep this one close but they have not shown the ability to finish higher level competition with their best wins coming against Kansas State, Purdue and USC, none bring the potential firepower Villanova does.
I like Villanova to establish themselves as the class of the tough Big East. Should be fun but this is a day for Wildcats.
Picks: Villanova -1