Backing a road favorite in the SEC, plus a PGA Honda Classic play: Best bets for Feb. 22

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Kentucky's Sahvir Wheeler (2) drives while defended by Florida's Kyle Lofton, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Wednesday, Feb. 22:

TOP PLAY

The play: NCAA men’s basketball, Kentucky -2½ over Florida

The odds: -115

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Our take: Betting on a road favorite in college basketball is nervy, and this year, betting on Kentucky under any circumstance isn’t for the faint of heart, either. This is the team that is 3-0 against Tennessee and Texas A&M but also lost at Georgia and at home to South Carolina.

Still, it seems as if oddsmakers haven’t fully appreciated yet how much this Florida team misses Colin Castleton, the all-SEC big man who is out with a broken hand. In their first game without him, the Gators had one of their worst overall offensive performances of the season and also one of their worst defensive rebounding and paint defense performances — areas where Castleton, an elite passer for his size and a stiff rebounder/defender in the paint, helps them the most.

In these teams’ first meeting, Castleton helped keep Kentucky star Oscar Tshiebwe to four points on 2-of-14 shooting, while he went 9 of 15 from the floor with five assists. Kentucky still won that game 72-67 at home, and it’s hard to figure Tshiebwe being that poor again with Castleton not on the floor.

This is an important game for UK, so expect their best effort, while shorthanded Florida is watching its season slip away. If there’s ever a time to take an inconsistent road favorite, this is it.

HONDA CLASSIC BET

The play: PGA Honda Classic, Min Woo Lee to finish top 20

The odds: +165

The book: DraftKings

Time/TV: 6:50 a.m. Thursday (ESPN+, Golf Channel, NBC)

Our take: After back-to-back elevated events on the West Coast, the PGA moves to Florida for four consecutive tournaments, including big ones in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship in March.

What all of that means is that the Honda Classic, this weekend in Palm Beach Gardens, gets skipped by the vast majority of the tour’s top players. Of the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 20, only Sungjae Im, Billy Horschel and Shane Lowry appear in this field — and they’re ranked Nos. 18, 19 and 20.

That does present some interesting betting opportunities for long shots in this field. Sepp Straka got his first career PGA victory here last year, and we’re looking for someone like that again.

I’ve landed on Min Woo Lee, who may be getting overlooked because he hasn’t played an official PGA event in nine months and so is quite an unknown. What the Australian has been doing, however, is excelling on the European Tour. Lee has played in eight Euro events since October and placed in the top 20 at all eight, including a third and a tie for 13th at his past two events, the Abu Dhabi Championship and Hero Dubai Desert Classic, events that had a good number of high-level PGA players.

This field is actually lighter than those, and while the course is actually one of the more difficult on the PGA schedule, that should trim some of the fat from the players below. We’re backing Lee to at least finish in the top 20 (and his outright price can still be found at 30-to-1 if you’re interested).

HOW WE’VE FARED

Tuesday’s best bets

  • Champions League: Napoli money line over Frankfurt (WON)
  • NHL: Kings-Wild OVER 6 goals (LOST)

Tuesday’s record: 1-1

Total for the week: 1-3

Total for February: 17-23

Total for 2023: 42-57

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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