Oscar Tshiebwe defending player with basketball

Mount St. Mary’s Deandre Thomas (2) shoots while pressured by Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe (34) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. Kentucky won 80-55. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

  • Kentucky is a 3.5-point favorite over Notre Dame on Saturday
  • Notre Dame is 3-4, 1-7 ATS
  • Read below for analysis and a betting prediction

No. 10 Kentucky (7-1) is a 3.5-point road favorite over Notre Dame in a nonconference game Saturday at 5:15pm ET on ESPN. The Wildcats have won seven in a row since a season-opening 79-71 loss to Duke in the Champions Classic in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 9.

Notre Dame (3-4) has lost three in a row and four of five, the only victory in that stretch coming against NCAA Division II Chaminade in a second-round game in the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas on Nov. 23.

Kentucky vs Notre Dame Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
Kentucky Wildcats -172 -3.5 (-112) Over 145.5 (-110)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish +142 +3.5 (-108) Under 145.5 (-110)

Odds from FanDuel on Dec. 10

Kentucky’s fast start has not impressed the math and algorithm crowd. The Wildcats are ranked No. 19 in KenPom in adjusted efficiency margin, behind three-loss Michigan (11th) and two-loss Tennessee (12th), among others.

Kentucky dropped one spot to No. 39 in the NCAA net rankings this week. The Wildcats are 0-1 in Quad 1 games and have not played a Quad 2 opponent.

Kentucky Wildcats Outlook

West Virginia transfer, 6-foot-9 forward Oscar Tshiebwe, has dominated the first month of the season, albeit against group of opponents that has lessened in strength precipitously since the season opener against Duke.

Tshiebwe is averaging 15.3 points and 15.4 rebounds in only 27 minutes per game while shooting 65.8% from the field with 15 blocked shots. He joins Utah Valley’s Fardaws Aimaq (twice), LSU’s Ben Simmons and Morehead State’s Kenneth Farried as the only players with 110 points, 110 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in the first eight games of a season since 2010-11.

Freshman 6-foot-3 guard TyTy Washington (14.8 points), 5-foot-10 transfer guard Sahvir Wheeler (10.8 points, 8.4 assists) and 6-foot-7 holdover forward Keion Brooks  (11.7 points,  4.6 rebounds) have been willing accomplices. Washington had a 20-point, 12-rebound double-double in a 77-59 victory over Ohio.

Thanks to Tshiebwe, the Wildcats have a whopping plus-19 rebound margin, the best in NCAA Division I and almost five more than No. 2 Purdue. who’s at plus-14.7.

The Wildcats outrebounded Duke by seven and had a stunning 53-15 rebounding edge against Ohio. Notre Dame was outrebounded 37-23 in a 73-57 loss at Boston College the last time out Dec. 3.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Outlook

Notre Dame will play its first home game in 25 days, since a 70-61 victory over High Point on Nov. 16. The extended road trip included losses in two of three games the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas over the Thanksgiving holiday and recent losses to Illinois and Boston College since.

Mike Brey changed his starting lineup the last time out in what was basically a BC blowout, inserting freshman 6-foot-5 guard Blake Wesley in place of guard Prentiss Hubb.

Hubb  was expected to be a key contributor this season but is off to a slow start, averaging only 7.3 points per game after going for 12.1 as a sophomore and 14.6 points last season. The Eagles led 52-29 with 15 minutes left.

Wesley is averaging 12.9 points and shooting 49.2% from the field and 37.9% from three-point range. He had 24 points in the 82-72 loss at Illinois on Nov. 29.

Hubb had 15 points against BC, making 3-of-4 three-point attempts, his biggest contribution of the season after playing 29 scoreless minutes in the season-opening 68-52 victory over Cal State Northridge and 28 scoreless minutes against the Illini.

Dane Goodwin, a 6-foot-7 forward leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.3 points, 5.4 rebounds. The Irish have a pair of 6-foot-10 players in Paul Atkinson and Nate Laszewski in the middle.

Kentucky vs Notre Dame Pick

Kentucky is 3-5 ATS and has lost three of its last four against the number while favored by at least 25 points in all four. This is the Wildcats’ first true road game and only their second away from Rupp Arena. The Wildcats play Ohio State and and Louisville in their next two.

Notre Dame won and covered as a 7-point underdog in the 64-63 victory at Rupp last year, when Hubb had 18 and no fans were in the building. That was the first game between the two since the Wildcats’ 68-66 in the 2015 NCAA tournament Midwest Regional Finals.

The Wildcats have the best player on the floor in Tshiebwe, but the first true game can be a hurdle in itself. The Irish have had eight days to chew on the raw taste of the decisive loss on Chestnut Hill.

The pick: Notre Dame +3.5 (-108). 

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Jack Magruder

Sports Writer


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