Kentucky vs South Carolina Picks and Predictions: Gamecocks Defense Keeps it Close

In theory, Kentucky should thump South Carolina, which explains the lofty spread. But we think the Gamecocks' stout defense keeps this game tighter than anticipated. The Wildcats may win, but we don't expect a blowout in our betting picks.

Last Updated: Feb 8, 2022 11:26 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Keyshawn Bryant South Carolina College Basketball
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The No. 5-ranked Kentucky Wildcats aim for their fifth win in a row as they face off against the South Carolina Gamecocks in NCAA basketball action on Tuesday night.

John Calipari's squad looks poised for a deep run in March but hasn't always been a profitable play for bettors. With college basketball betting odds installing the Wildcats as 11-point favorites tonight can they cover on the road or is there another angle to consider?

We let you know what we think with our best free Kentucky vs. South Carolina picks and predictions for February 8. 

Kentucky vs South Carolina odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

The Wildcats opened as 12-point road favorites for this contest with the Over/Under at 141.5. Early money came in on the Gamecocks and the Over, shifting the line to Kentucky -11 and moving the total to 144.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until tip-off and be sure to check out the full college basketball odds before placing your bets.

Kentucky vs South Carolina predictions

Predictions made on 2/08/2022 at 10:20 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Kentucky vs South Carolina game info

Location: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, SC
Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2022
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. ET

Kentucky at South Carolina betting preview


Kentucky: CJ Fredrick G (Out).
South Carolina: Ta'Quan Woodley F (Questionable).

Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Under is 6-1 in Kentucky's last seven road games. Find more NCAA betting trends for Kentucky vs. South Carolina.

Kentucky vs South Carolina 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.

Spread analysis

After an ugly 9-16 campaign last year, the Wildcats are back to being a national championship contender. They've won eight of their last nine games with their only defeat during that span coming on the road against the top-ranked team in the nation in Auburn. 

Since that loss in Auburn on January 22, they've reeled off four straight victories, including a pair of impressive double-digit wins on the road against Kansas and Alabama.

South Carolina is coming off back-to-back ugly losses, falling 78-64 to Mississippi State last Tuesday before getting throttled by 24 points by Tennessee at home on Saturday. The Gamecocks are 3-5 SU and ATS in their last eight games and when they lose they get clobbered. They have eight defeats since the start of December and in seven of those, they lost by at least 14 points.

This is a South Carolina squad that has great size on the perimeter and uses that length and aggressiveness to pressure opposing ball-handlers. The Gamecocks rank 33rd in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom, and they limit opponents to a 40.7 FG% while forcing plenty of turnovers. They need to create those turnovers and get into transition because their offense has been so terrible in the halfcourt, sitting 227th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency with a 41.7 FG% (264th). 

The Wildcats have been terrific on both ends of the floor, ranking fifth in AdjO and 11th in AdjD, thanks to some excellent rebounding and scoring depth (five players averaging double-digits). That said, they haven't shot the ball well on the road. Kentucky has a 44.8 FG% in away games this season, compared to a sizzling 51.4 FG% at home.

That could make it tough to gain separation against a defensively tough team like South Carolina. It's tough to back a team that tends to lose big like the Gamecocks, but the Wildcats have been installed as more than 8-point chalk in just three SEC games this season and didn't cover in any of those. With Kentucky in a letdown spot after a big road win against Bama, we'll lean towards the home side with the points. 

Prediction: South Carolina +11 (-110)

Over/Under analysis

Defense tends to travel well and Kentucky was nothing short of sensational on that end of the floor in those recent road wins against Alabama and Kansas. They kept the Crimson Tide to 55 points on 27% shooting on Saturday while limiting the Jayhawks to 62 points and outrebounding them 36-23 two weeks ago. 

Matter of fact, in six road games since the start of January, the Wildcats have allowed more than 66 points just once, versus an Auburn team that averages 82.2 points per game at home.

Now they face off against an offensively inept South Carolina squad that has averaged 64.5 points in its last eight games and is fresh off a game against the Vols where it shot just 31% from the floor. 

That said, Kentucky could have scoring troubles of its own tonight against a scrappy Gamecocks defense. The Wildcats average a whopping 87 ppg at home but that number plummets to 72.2 on the road and in four of their last seven away contests they've scored 66 points or fewer. Take the Under. 

Prediction: Under 144 (-110)

Best bet

The total hit the board at 141.5 and I'm actually a bit surprised to see it move upwards, especially with South Carolina playing so poorly on offense and so well on defense during conference play.

Although the Gamecocks have cashed the Over in three straight games, they combined for 138, 142, and 137 points in those contests, which would all be Under tonight's total of 144. 

Meanwhile, Kentucky's dominant defense and streaky shooting on the road have resulted in the Under cashing in six of their last seven away games. Go against the line movement and back the Under. 

Pick: Under 144 (-110)

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