The 11th-seeded Providence Friars (21-11) take on the 6-seed Kentucky Wildcats (21-11) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET (CBS). Below, we analyze Tipico Sportsbook’s lines around the Providence vs. Kentucky odds, and make our expert college basketball picks, predictions and best bets.
Providence is led by Kentucky transfer F Bryce Hopkins, who averages 16.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Hopkins has lifted a Friars team which lost 3 of its top 5 scorers off last season’s team.
Kentucky finished 4th in SEC this season behind Oscar Tshiebwe, who patrols the center for the Wildcats and averaged 16.5 points and 13.1 rebounds per game.
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Providence vs. Kentucky odds
Provided by Tipico Sportsbook; access USA TODAY Sports Scores and Sports Betting Odds hub for a full list. Lines last updated Thursday at 9:56 p.m. ET.
- Moneyline (ML): Providence +145 (bet $100 to win $145) | Kentucky -180 (bet $180 to win $100)
- Against the spread (ATS): Providence +3.5 (-105) | Kentucky -3.5 (-115)
- Over/Under (O/U): 145.5 (O: -105 | U: -115)
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Providence vs. Kentucky picks and predictions
Kentucky 70, Providence 64
Providence has played some good basketball this season, but its talent level is not up to that of Kentucky’s. Even a disappointing Kentucky.
Reigning player of the year Tshiebwe still controls the middle of the floor for Kentucky and Providence will have no one with the ability to shut him down.
If the Friars can score, this game could be close. But Kentucky is the better team and wagering anyone -180 is not worth the risk straight up. Although it might make a fine addition to a parlay.
KENTUCKY -3.5 (-115).
Hopkins has been key to the Providence rejuvenation this season. But the former Kentucky player will find difficult times going against his former team. With Kentucky’s ability to shut him down, Providence will not have other stars to count on and this will limit the production it can manage.
Tshiebwe will dominate and allow Kentucky to get out on fast breaks with his rebounding on the defensive boards. The 3.5 points is not enough and I do not see this being a potential upset. Kentucky -3.5 is the way to go.
UNDER 145.5 (-105).
With Kentucky’s ability to control the paint and the rebounding, Providence will find 2nd-chance points difficult. This will limit the amount of offense it is able to put up and also limit the amount Kentucky, which has struggled a bit, will also need to put up to win.
While one of these teams could get to 70, I do not see both getting there and this game should comfortably go Under the 144.5 total.
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