The Kentucky Wildcats are the No. 1 team in the country and the odds-on-favorite to win this year’s national title, but I will give you five reasons why you should avoid wagering on them for the remainder of the regular season.
Reason 1: Overall Betting Trends
Kentucky’s 69-44 demolition of Tennessee on Tuesday night as a 15.5-point home favorite raised its record to 22-1 straight-up on the year, but it was the just the third time in 14 games this season that the Wildcats covered a spread at home. Overall, they are 7-14-1 against the spread and 3-10-1 ATS at home.
These trends have reversed themselves as of late with a 4-1 record ATS in their past five games, but the overall body of work still makes Kentucky less than attractive in a bettor’s eye. The Wildcats do remain a solid play on the total line with seven of their last 10 and 14 of 21 games overall staying ‘under’ the total.
Reason 2: Top-Ranked Teams ATS Records
Kentucky is not alone in its dismal performance ATS. The overall record ATS for some of the other top teams in the nation is also less than stellar. The No. 7 Duke Blue Devils are 18-3 SU, but just 8-13 ATS. No. 6 Baylor is 19-2 SU, but just 7-7 ATS and No. 8 Kansas is 17-4 SU, but just 10-10 ATS.
There are some exceptions to the rule such as No. 2 Syracuse at 14-8 ATS and No. 3 Ohio State at 11-6 ATS, but top-ranked teams get every other team’s best shot just about every time they step out onto the court and Kentucky is hardly the exception.
Reason 3: Playing in the SEC
While you would not compare the degree of difficulty of playing basketball in the SEC to that of football, competition still remains fierce. Kentucky is currently 8-0 SU in conference play, but 4-4 ATS. The Wildcats just split with the Volunteers ATS and covered against LSU, Georgia, and Arkansas, but they failed to cover against Alabama, Auburn and South Carolina, which are a combined 6-14 SU in conference play.
Looking at Kentucky’s remaining schedule, after a road game against the Gamecocks this Saturday, it still has two games against No. 11 Florida and Vanderbilt sandwiched around a date with Mississippi and No. 19 Mississippi State. All four of these schools are fighting for an invitation to the Big Dance in March and an upset over the Wildcats might just punch their ticket.
Reason 4: High Expectations
The oddsmakers have made life miserable for the Wildcats backers in terms of being saddled with double-digit spreads in 18 of their 22 games with a posted line. The spread was 15 or more points in 14 of those games and 20 or more points in nine games.
They have tempered things as of late as Kentucky plows through the meat of its conference schedule, but the expectation level of the betting public still remains incredibly high for this team, which, in turn, has a way of driving up the spreads.
Reason 5: Kentucky is Too Good
Another reason for the inflated spreads is the simple fact that Kentucky might just be too good. The Wildcats are averaging 77.8 points a game and shooting 48.5 percent from the field, while holding their opponents to an average of 57.9 points a game.
Anthony Davis and Doron Lamb have led the way with a combined 26.8 points and 13.5 rebounds a game, but Kentucky has four other players scoring in double figures. This team is young but deep with seven players averaging at least 13 minutes a game.
Maintaining this level of play game after game is not easy to do at the collegiate level, which, in turn, leads to closer games than expected. The Wildcats are built to go a long way this season and will probably win the remainder of their regular season games SU, just do not bet on them to cover ATS.
Doc Moseman is the owner of Doc's Sports, and you can follow up with all his college basketball insight here.