THE Wildcats start the season ranked number four in the country, and John Calipari expects his team to hit the ground running.
Kentucky will roll out one of the youngest teams we’ve seen under Calipari (or anyone else for that matter) but that doesn’t mean they don’t still have a host of experience to go with it.
Freshman guard Hamidou Diallo almost decided to enter last season’s super-stacked NBA draft before deciding to play for Kentucky after sitting out last season as he adjusted to life on campus.
The 19-year-old has played for Team USA at the U19 World Championships and despite his inexperience at collegian level he is still set to make an immediate impact on the floor.
Freshman forward Kevin Knox, who will likely for the Oscar Robertson Trophy come the end of the season, is a huge presence at both ends of the court and there’s no doubt he will hit the ground running in this one.
Coach Cal has stressed the importance of making every possession count, and that means limiting opponents second chance points while maximising their own chances on offence.
Not much is known about this Utah Valley side but if last season was anything to go by than this line could be too short – even for a season opener.
The Wolverines are active on the glass and that will certainly be a point of emphasis for both teams heading into this one, but the cause for concern is whether the visitors can prevent any easy buckets off turnovers and in transition.
Last season, Utah owned a turnover margin of minus-1.5 that saw them ranked dead last in that category.
Cheap points on the road are never a good thing, but to do so against one of the nation’s top teams is a recipe for disaster. Opening night is always ridiculously tough and so we’ll dip our toes in the water here as we ease our way into the season.
Our projections have Kentucky winning by 28.6 points on their home court, which give us a strong lean on the 20.0 line currently available.
Tip: Kentucky Wildcats -20.0 @ $1.91 (0.5 units)