Florida +9 at Kentucky O/U 141.5
The Florida Gators have just about everything I like to look for out of a road underdog. We’ve seen the Gators in this role twice already this season at Ohio State and at Syracuse; two teams – like the Kentucky squad they’ll face tonight – with legitimate national championship potential. Florida was in both games right through the final buzzer, losing by four and seven points while covering the pointspread in both instances.
This is nothing new or different for Billy Donovan’s Gators. This team has the type of veteran leadership we love to see in the backcourt, with senior guard Erving Walker and junior guard Kenny Boynton combining for 191 career starts between them. No surprise then, that in the Walker-Boynton era, Florida is 16-5-1 ATS as underdogs. And this year’s Gator team might be the best of the bunch!
Florida ranks #5 in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio; avoiding the type of careless ball handling mistakes that flummox so many teams against the Wildcats pressure. And Florida ranks #1 in the country in made three pointers per game, making more than 10 trifectas per game while connecting at a better than 40% clip. We’re talking about a ‘live’ underdog that can play with poise, won’t be intimidated facing a quality team in a hostile environment, with the potential to shoot their way into a backdoor cover late if they fall behind by margin early.
Kentucky has struggled repeatedly in this ‘big home favorite’ role all year long; overvalued by the betting markets for much of the season. There’s no questioning the talent that John Calipari has brought into Lexington – his roster is loaded with future NBA lottery picks. But since blowing out Marist in their regular season home opener, the Wildcats have managed to cover the spread in only two of their last 14 home games, a track record of failure that gets me into play against them once again tonight. Take Florida.