The Kentucky Wildcats will look to earn a Sweet 16 berth when they take on the Buffalo Bulls Saturday evening.
Kentucky held off upset-minded Davidson to advance to the Round of 32. They’ll be looking to make it to the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in the John Calipari era. Meanwhile, Buffalo is coming off of a shocking upset win over Arizona in which they defeated the Pac-12 champions by 21 points.
Kentucky enters the game as a 6-point favorite over Buffalo, down from the opening -7.5 spread. Oddly enough, Kentucky is actually favored more in this game than they were against Davidson when the spread was -4.5. Buffalo was a 9-point underdog vs Arizona.
Kentucky is 18-17 against the spread this year, according to OddsShark.
The over/under currently sits at 158, according to Sportsline. Kentucky-Davidson easily hit the over, which was set at 141. Buffalo-Arizona was just under at 157.
Just a few notes from OddsShark: The total has gone over in 8 of Buffalo’s last 11 games versus teams with winning records, Kentucky is 5-2 straight up in seven neutral court games this year, and Buffalo is 8-0 SU in its last eight games vs teams with winning records.
Hopefully Kentucky has a much better defensive showing and doesn’t allow Buffalo to go crazy from the three-point line as they did in their 89-point outing Thursday night.
What They’re Saying
Mark Story of the Herald-Leader wrote a column early Friday saying what most of us believe: Kentucky could be in trouble if Buffalo keeps up the same pace they had against Arizona.
For all the kvetching about the difficulty of Kentucky’s draw in the NCAA Tournament, the Cats will now get a shot at a No. 13 seed in the round of 32.
Meanwhile, the South Region No. 1 seed, Virginia, has lost a key player, swingman De’Andre Hunter, to a broken left wrist.
If Buffalo plays as fiercely Saturday and shoots the three as well against Kentucky as it did against Arizona, UK better buckle up for a round of 32 rumble.
It’s hard to imagine Buffalo shoots as insanely well as they did against Arizona, particularly with the bounces they were getting on the rim and banking in deep threes, but Kentucky will have to be on their A-game in terms of defending the perimeter.
The Courier Journal’s Fletcher Page said Buffalo’s hot shooting provides a dangerous matchup for Kentucky particularly if the Wildcats aren’t making threes as well.
A potential contrast in 3-point shooting could again place Kentucky in danger in the second round Saturday against Buffalo. The No. 13 seed Bulls made 15 of 30 from deep Thursday to upset fourth-seeded Arizona 89-68.
TheSpun.com predicts Kentucky as the winner, due to Kentucky’s improved defense.
Look, Kentucky could be in some trouble here. Buffalo is clearly not scared of playing a big-time program, and the Bulls look like they were underseeded, at least after one night.
Buffalo’s backcourt rolled Arizona, but Kentucky is a better defensive team. They won’t get abused in pick-and-rolls and by Buffalo spreading the floor the way U of A was.
This will be tight, and Kentucky will need to make at least one three to win this time, but we’ll go with the Wildcats. Kentucky is the pick.
Chip Patterson of 247 Sports also noted how important Kentucky’s defensive effort will be critical in stopping the hot-shooting Bulls from scoring in bunches.
“Kentucky is the favorite and should win this game, but they have to lock down on the defensive end in order to do it,” Patterson told Hakem Dermish.
Most everyone seems to agree that Kentucky should be the winner in this game, but Buffalo is a dangerous Cinderella threat and with the way they’re shooting the ball, Kentucky has to make sure that they use their length to bother the Bulls’ perimeter shooters and continue to remain efficient on the offensive end and knock down at least a couple threes on the offensive end.
- OddsShark projects a 78-74 Buffalo win.
- TeamRankings projects a 82-76 Kentucky win
- NumberFire predicts Kentucky to win 79-77
- Resid projects an 81-80 Buffalo win
- ELO projects an 85-75 Kentucky win
- KenPom projects an 84-77 win for the Wildcats