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Kentucky Basketball: ESPN gives Vanderbilt the edge over Wildcats

ESPN BPI has actually been very accurate at predicting UK games this season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 03 Kentucky at LSU Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats enter Saturday’s match-up with a record of 13-3 (3-1 SEC) and will face a 6-10 (1-3) Vanderbilt Commodores squad that has losses to Belmont and Middle Tennessee State on their resume.

Yet, the ESPN Basketball Power Index (BPI) gives Vanderbilt a 54.4% chance to defeat Kentucky on their home court.

For what it’s worth, ESPN BPI has been pretty good at predicting UK games this season. They actually gave Virginia Tech a very slight edge back in early December. Though the Cats pulled off a narrow win, it was a game the Hokies could have easily won.

BPI also had Kansas and Tennessee being the favorites in those matchups, which UK ultimately lost. The only time BPI has been wrong for UK this season was when they had Virginia Tech as a slight favorite over UK, and when they had UK as a favorite over UCLA.

That’s a 14-2 mark, so while it may have some flaws, it’s been pretty accurate for UK this season.

While Las Vegas has yet to release odds on the game, it is difficult to believe that Vanderbilt would be favored regardless of home court advantage. The Commodores have lost 3 of their last 4 games, with their only win coming at home against a reeling Alabama Crimson Tide team.

While they had a strong showing early against Tennessee on Tuesday, they gave up a 10-point lead to fall to the Volunteers 92-84.

The Wildcats, on the other hand, are 3-1 in their last four and are coming off of an impressive win against Texas A&M while playing short-handed on Tuesday. It is expected that Quade Green will be back in action for the Wildcats on Saturday, and there is a chance that Jarred Vanderbilt will make his debut this weekend.

It is not clear how much injuries play into ESPN’s BPI rating. If this is based on the seven scholarship players that Kentucky suited up on Tuesday, perhaps the Commodores should be favored.

But with no quality wins on their schedule, I would be very hesitant to put my money on Vanderbilt in any league game until the prove themselves?

What do you think about ESPN’s prediction for Saturday’s matchup?