Two ranked teams in the SEC will face off on Tuesday when the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats meet the No. 21 LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. Kentucky will look to stay hot, actively on a four-game winning streak in which it's averaging 92 points and winning by an average of 33.8 points. LSU, on the other hand, will be looking to bounce back from its loss to Auburn, which went as the Tigers' first loss of the season.
Continue reading for our free college basketball picks and predictions for Kentucky vs LSU on Tuesday, January 4th.
Kentucky vs LSU odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
The spread opened with LSU as 2-point favorites but then moved to pick 'em quickly before moving as high as LSU -4. The spread has since settled back to the opening number at the time of this writing.
The total has seen more one-way movement, opening initially at 138 and moving steadily to its current number of 143.
Kentucky vs LSU predictions
Predictions made on 1/4/2022 at 12:35 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Kentucky vs LSU game info
• Location: Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, LA
• Date: Tuesday, January 4, 2022
• Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
Kentucky at LSU betting preview
LSU: Brandon Murray G (Questionable).
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Betting trend to know
LSU is 10-3 against the spread and 11-2 to the Under on the season. Find more NCAA betting trends for Kentucky vs. LSU.
Kentucky vs LSU picks and predictions
Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.
Kentucky ranks 11th in the nation in scoring (83.9 PPG) and accomplishes that with various talents all over the floor. Oscar Tshiebwe may not be the tallest big man at just 6-foot-9, but he has an absurd engine to his game and his scoring (15.8 PPG) is supplemented with his nation-leading 15.2 rebounds per game. And senior guard TyTy Washington consistently finds a way to finish at the hoop or kick it to an open man when needed. Tshiebwe and Washington are key reasons Kentucky ranks first in two-point attempts and fifth in two-point field goal percentage.
Senior guard Kellan Grady has seen a sizable decrease in his usage (13.1 FGA to 7.8) and scoring (17.1 PPG to 11.8), but he's making the most of his looks when he gets them. He's shooting an absurd 50% from downtown this year while leading the team in attempts (5.8 per game). In the last three games alone, he's gone 14 fo 24 from three and has led the team in scoring in two of those games.
That isn't to say that LSU doesn't have scorers as well. Sophomore forward Tari Eason leads the team in scoring (15.8 PPG) and is second in rebounding (7.4 RPG) despite having logged zero starts. He combines his athletic frame with absurdly lanky arms and out-of-a-cannon explosiveness to be a problem everywhere on the court. He finishes at the rim with authority (60.6% two-point percentage), gets to the charity stripe and makes it count (80% on 4.2 FTA per game), and has a nose for the ball (1.7 steals and 1.4 blocks per game). He is legitimately one of the most exciting talents to watch in the SEC.
Senior forward Darius Days (14.7 PPG) is the Tigers' de facto leader and is also an all-around talent. He uses his size to win at the glass (8.0 RPG) but is also a threat on the perimeter (36.4% on 6.8 3PA per game). Freshman center Efton Reid adds to LSU's size and helps contribute to the Tigers' 13th-ranked 41.7 boards per game.
It's this combination of LSU's size and athleticism that should give Kentucky trouble in the areas where they love to shoot from most. In fact, LSU allows just 42.3% on two-point field goal attempts, good for 19th in the nation. Mix in the fact that this game will be just Kentucky's second road game of the season. The other? The Wildcats' ugly loss to Notre Dame last month when they could only muster 62 points.
Prediction: LSU -2 (-108)
On top of LSU being able to limit Kentucky down low, there's also its ability to limit shot volume altogether. LSU forces a turnover on 27.3% of all possessions, the sixth-highest mark in the nation. They rank first in steals (12.5) and 45th in blocks (4.9) and, as mentioned previously, control the boards (13th). Altogether, LSU only allows 55.2 field goal attempts per game and defends them extremely well - its 34.5% field goal percentage allowed is the lowest mark in all of Division I. The end result? Teams score just 55.3 points per game against the Tigers, the fourth-lowest mark in college basketball.
The Wildcats aren't defensive slouches, either. Kentucky allows just 60.5 points per game, which ranks 33rd. As its #17 rank in KenPom defensive efficiency rank suggests, Kentucky is actually much better than those marks suggest. Given that their own pace (66.4 FGA per game, which ranks seventh) naturally gives opponents more opportunities to shoot over the course of a game, scoring volume stats are inflated just enough to hide how good Kentucky truly is on the defensive end.
Prediction: Under 143 (-110)
All in all, this is somewhat of a matchup nightmare for Kentucky. Unless John Calipari comes in with a completely different approach from the jump, Kentucky will be feeding right into LSU's defensive strengths. And given the Tigers' ability to strangle games away between forcing turnovers and controlling the glass, any strategic pivot that doesn't come very early on will be a death sentence for the Wildcats.
Pick: LSU -2 (-108)
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