NCAA March Madness: Kentucky vs. Providence betting preview, odds and predictions
In the 6 vs. 11 matchup in the East region of the 2023 NCAA tournament, Kentucky faces Providence with a spot in the Round of 32 on the line. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs.
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How to watch Kentucky vs. Providence
When: Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET
Where: Greensboro, NC
Odds for Kentucky vs. Providence
Spread: Kentucky -3.5
(Odds accurate as of Sunday, March 12th at 11:00 p.m. ET)
Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook
East Region No. 6 Seed Kentucky
Kentucky feels like a team that is being overlooked a bit heading into the tournament. The Wildcats got off to a slow start to the year, but they ended up getting hot down the stretch. And while John Calipari’s teams aren’t always consistent offensively, this year’s team has some juice on that end of the floor. Freshman Cason Wallace is unstoppable when he gets downhill and starts going toward the basket, and Oscar Tshiebwe is a monster in the paint. The Wildcats also happen to have some capable outside shooters, which isn’t always the case for this program. If Kentucky can improve a bit defensively when it matters most, the Wildcats could end up being a true contender.
East Region No. 11 Seed Providence
No team in the country wants to see an Ed Cooley-led program on the opposing sideline. Cooley’s team always competes its tail off, which probably has something to do with his contagious energy. And the Friars are never out of games as long as he is there to motivate them. This year’s team has some impressive wins, but also some bad losses. That’s why Providence found itself on the tournament bubble, but this team is fully capable of making some noise. The Friars are a top-20 team on the offensive end of the floor, with five starters averaging double digits in scoring. Providence will just need to lock in and play harder on the defensive end, but the adrenaline of March Madness usually helps in that regard.
Kentucky vs. Providence matchup analysis
There was a week’s worth of uneasy days for Providence, as the Friars wondered if they’d make the NCAA Tournament and if their run would start in Dayton. As luck would have it, the Selection Committee looked favorably upon the Big East and Providence, despite four losses in five games, including a one-and-done in the Big East Tournament. A lot of people seemed likely to side with Kentucky as a suspiciously-low favorite and we did see the line take off on Monday morning as influential groups took up their positions.
This is not the Providence team that made a Sweet 16 run last year. This version isn’t nearly as good defensively and it’s the lowest-rated defense Ed Cooley has had since his first season back in 2012 per Bart Torvik. That was painfully evident over the team’s last five games, as opponents went 54-of-117 (46.2%) from 3. The only win in that span was a 20-point triumph over a Georgetown bunch that just fired Patrick Ewing and went 2-37 in Big East play over the last two seasons.
So, you can see why Kentucky might be an attractive bet. Despite a one-and-done of their own in the SEC Tournament, Kentucky had sparks and flashes late in the year. They beat Tennessee by 12 to complete the regular season sweep and won at Arkansas to finish the regular season. They are a respectable 6-7 against Quadrant I opponents and 6-1 against Quadrant II opponents, which Providence is heading into this game.
Kentucky’s strength of schedule is 32 spots higher per Ken Pomeroy and they’re just a little bit better in a lot of areas, including both main efficiency metrics and offensive rebounding percentage. Kentucky obviously has more raw talent as one of the nation’s blue bloods. This is also a Wildcats bunch that lost at home to South Carolina and on the road at Georgia, so you can’t really take anything for granted.
Both teams grade about the same with their shooting numbers, with Kentucky better defensively in both 2P% and 3P%. You can’t count out a Cooley team, but the Wildcats simply look like the stronger bunch.
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