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Kentucky vs. Utah: Analysis, odds, expert picks and predictions

Kentucky is heavily favored at home.

Jamie Boggs - A Sea of Blue

Both the Kentucky Wildcats and Utah Utes are trying to rebound from losses last Saturday. Kentucky fell to Seton Hall in overtime and Utah failed to handle BYU.

The Wildcats have mightily failed to meet expectations so far this season, but there is so much talent on the roster that Big Blue Nation is holding out hope. Utah may be just the opponent to get the Wildcats back on track, as Kentucky goes into the game as a 13.5 point favorite.


Kentucky desperately needs to take a few steps forward on Saturday. After stumbling to a 7-2 record, the Wildcats are on the verge of having their schedule pick up rapidly. After facing the Utes, the Wildcats will take on the North Carolina Tar Heels and Louisville Cardinals before going into conference play.

Kentucky has struggled on both sides of the court this season. Their shooters haven’t shot well, they have been unable to stop opponents from hitting open three-pointers, and aside from Reid Travis nobody has been consistent. There is a load of potential on this team, but they have yet to put it together.

Kentucky is at their best when PJ Washington is imposing his will, Keldon Johnson is taking the ball to the rack, and Tyler Herro is hitting shots. All three of those guys need to build confidence on Saturday if this team is going to get where they want to be in SEC play.

The Utah Utes have struggled as well, a far cry from the Rick Majerus days. They come in at 4-4 and lost a lot of experience from last season. The lone returning starter is also their leading scorer, and that is Sedrick Barefield at 14 points per game. Their leading rebounder is averaging 6.8 per game, and that is Donnie Tillman.

Now that Kentucky has lost Quade Green, keep an eye out for Jemarl Baker sighting as John Calipari is desperate for offensive production and in need of filling Green’s minutes. This is also another game where Reid Travis and PJ Washington should own the paint. Without a total collapse, the Wildcats should stay in control of this one.

Betting Trends

Kentucky is a 13.5 point favorite over the Utes. How have they fared against the spread so far this season?

Here are some betting trends for both teams:

  • Kentucky is 3-6 ATS this season
  • The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Kentucky’s 9 games this season
  • Kentucky is 7-0 SU and 3-4 ATS in home games this season
  • Utah is 2-6 ATS this season
  • The total has gone UNDER in 3 of Utah’s 8 games this season
  • Utah is 0-1 SU and ATS in away games this season
  • Kentucky is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 Saturday games.

Expert Picks

ESPN gives Kentucky a 94.5% chance to leave Madison Square Garden with a victory over Seton Hall on Saturday.

TeamRankings projects a 79-65 win for Kentucky.

KenPom gives Kentucky a 90-percent chance of winning and projects an 80-66 win.

numberFire predicts Kentucky to win 79-67.


Traditionally, writing up a prediction for a Kentucky matchup against a bottom-rung PAC-12 team like Utah could be fun and lighthearted. This season, however, it feels like nothing can be taken for granted. The Wildcats dropped what looked like a guaranteed win on Saturday in overtime against Seton Hall, and now it seems like almost everything we knew about this team is no longer true.

”The best shooting team I have ever had,” says Calipari.

Not so much.

“This group has talent and depth at every position,” said everyone three months ago.

It certainly does not seem that way.

Seton Hall is not a very good basketball team. Thankfully, Utah actually seems like a bad team. They sit at 4-4 coming off of a loss against BYU last Saturday.

The Utes do not score a lot of points, and their leading scorer Sedrick Barefield only averages 14 per game with just one other player averaging double figures (Donnie Tillman). They do not appear to be a good shooting team, with only two players, Riley Battin and Parker Van Dyke, showing the ability to make three-pointers.

At times, the Wildcats look like they are making progress. Most of the time, unfortunately, several of the guys have seemed disinterested. If they show up to Rupp Arena with any fire whatsoever, they should win this game.

Based on the last month, though, that’s a big “if.”

Prediction: Kentucky 85, Utah 70