By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
Tonight, Kentucky will face Monmouth in their seventh game of the season, which will be their last game for the month of the cupcakes. Yes, I do recall that the season began in very early November against Duke, but since Duke, the UK opponents have been:
#147 Southern Illinois, 0.030 ppp
#269 North Dakota, -0.107 ppp
#292 VMI, -0.136 ppp
#155 Winthrop, 0.022 ppp
#274 Tennessee State, -0.116 ppp
And, next up #313 Monmouth with an ANE of -0.174 ppp. Kentucky’s cumulative performance through these first 6 games produces an ANE of 0.085 points per possession, sufficient for a #94 ranking.
During the month of December, the level of competition rises significantly with #53 North Carolina Greensboro, #68 Seton Hall, #130 Utah, #9 North Carolina, and #45 Louisville. Four of the five December opponents have better ANE values at this point of the season than UK. Therefore, Monmouth represents the last cupcake of the 2018-19 season.
Monmouth enters Rupp without a win in their first seven games this season. As noted above, Monmouth’s ANE is -0.174 ppp, playing at a pace ofThis produces an early season ANE of -0.158 ppp at an average pace of almost 71 possessions per game. In contrast, the #94 Cats bring an ANE of 0.084 ppp at an average pace of 73 to 74 possessions per game.
The ANE analysis indicates a Kentucky win by 24 points, 90-66, in a game played at a pace of 74 possessions. Pomeroy projects a 23 point Kentucky win over Monmouth, 85-62, at a pace of about 71 possessions. Vegas has opened with the Cats favored by 24 points. For the reasons identified above, the primary focus on this game against Tennessee State is whether the final margin is 20 or less, or 30 or more at the final buzzer.
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