Final Four Betting Preview: Kentucky vs. Connecticut

2011 Final Four logoUnlike the early game between a pair of lower-seeded mid-major schools, the late Final Four game on Saturday will feature two traditional college basketball powerhouses when No. 4 Kentucky takes on No. 3 Connecticut (8:50 p.m. ET, CBS).

It will be the fourth trip to the Final Four for Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun while Kentucky’s John Calipari is making his third trip.

The Huskies are led by one of the best players in the country in G Kemba Walker (23.9 ppg) while Kentucky has a lot of young talent including guard Brandon Knight (17.3 ppg).

Kentucky is listed as a 2.5-point favorite at and the total is set at 140. On the moneyline, the Wildcats are -145; the Huskies are +125.

Connecticut (30-9 SU, 21-12 ATS) has had the easier route to the Final Four with wins over Bucknell, Cincinnati, San Diego State and Arizona while Kentucky (29-8 SU, 17-14-1 ATS) has had to face Princeton, West Virginia, Ohio State and North Carolina.

The Huskies have been getting superb play out of Walker and as well as freshman G-F Jeremy Lamb (11.1 ppg). Kentucky is more balanced with a number of players contributing including Knight and 6-foot-8 F Terrence Jones (15.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg).

This will be the 14th appearance for Kentucky in the Final Four but its first since 1998. This is Connecticut’s fourth appearance in the Final Four; they Huskies went on to win the title twice.

Kentucky is the favorite in this game even though Connecticut, led by 29 points from Kemba Walker, beat the Wildcats 84-67 back in November at the Maui Invitational; the Huskies were 5-point dogs in that game.

Many basketball experts and oddsmakers believe Kentucky has grown up since that time and have the Wildcats favored. Bettors seem to agree and are leaning towards Kentucky on Saturday night.

Regardless, Connecticut has been very good lately in non-conference games and is 9-1 ATS in its last 10. The Huskies are 7-2 ATS in their last nine tournament games.

On the other side, Kentucky has been very good against Big East teams of late having gone 16-5-1 ATS in their last 22 games. Kentucky is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 NCAA Tournament games.

Here are more key Final Four betting stats for Saturday’s game:

The Wildcats are 5-1 ATS in their last six neutral site games. The Huskies are 23-8 ATS in their last 31 games as an underdog.

The under is 4-0-1 in the Wildcats’ last five overall. The under is 4-1 in the Huskies’ last five overall. The over is 9-4 in the Huskies’ last 13 NCAA Tournament games.

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