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Arkansas vs. Kentucky College Basketball Odds & Pick: Back the Talented Wildcats for a Home Upset

Arkansas vs. Kentucky College Basketball Odds & Pick: Back the Talented Wildcats for a Home Upset article feature image

Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: John Calipari.

  • Kentucky looks to pull off an upset in Lexington against Arkansas.
  • The talented Wildcats team has underwhelmed all season, but the Razorbacks are yet to notch a signature win in their 14-5 season.
  • Kyle Remillard breaks down why he sees this as a spot for Kentucky to potentially get hot late in the season.

Arkansas vs. Kentucky Odds

Arkansas Odds -1.5
Kentucky Odds +1.5
Moneyline -115 / -105
Over/Under 140.5
Time | TV 7 p.m. ET | ESPN
Odds as of Monday evening and via BetMGM, where you can get an INSTANT $500 deposit match.

John Calipari has never won fewer than 20 games in his 12-year tenure at Kentucky, a streak that will come to an end in 2021. The Wildcats are 5-12 with things seemingly spiraling out of control.

Kentucky is projected to miss both the NCAA Tournament and the NIT by The only road the Cats have at this point is to make a magical March run in the SEC Tournament, a feat that is always possible given the talent that Kentucky has. 

The Razorbacks, meanwhile, are 14-5 and tied for third place in the SEC standings. After starting the season 9-0, they have dropped half of their last 10 games.

Arkansas has benefited from an easy schedule to open the season and is now starting to show its true colors against quality opposition.

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Kentucky is … 5-12?

It’s clear that this team hasn’t lived up to the Kentucky standards of the past, but that’s not due to a lack of talent. The Wildcats have five players who average double-digit points per game.

One of those five is Terrence Clarke, a 6-foot-7 point guard, who entered the season as the eighth-ranked player in the country, according to RSCIhoops.

Clarke has not played since Dec. 26 due to an ankle injury that has held him out for nearly seven weeks. Calipari was optimistic that Clarke would play the Wildcats’ last game against Tennessee, but that wasn’t the case. 

The leading scorer for the Wildcats this season is Brandon Boston Jr., another 6-foot-7 guard who was the fourth-ranked recruit in the country, according to RSCIhoops. Boston has not lived up to his preseason expectations so far but is still averaging 11.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He has made just 11-of-55 (20%) 3-point attempts this season. 

Kentucky also has the Nos. 26 and 28 freshmen recruits this season in Isaiah Jackson and Devin Askew. 

This begs the question, with all this talent, why is this team 5-12? I believe the biggest reason is the odd season due to COVID-19.

Kentucky is a powerhouse that brings in five-star recruits for a pit stop before jumping to the NBA. Typical Kentucky teams begin to hit their stride just before tournament time. Without the ability to practice in the same way during and before the season, that cohesion is not there.

The Wildcats undoubtedly have the talent to make a run but need to get their act together, and do so quickly.

Are the Razorbacks Pretenders?

Arkansas, similar to Kentucky, also has five players who are averaging 10-plus points per game this year. Leading that group is Moses Moody, who is scoring 16.4 per game while grabbing 5.6 rebounds per game. He came into the season ranked 40th by RSCIhoops but has outperformed that ranking. 

There is more than meets the eye with the 14-5 record that the Razorbacks display. When they have faced teams ranked 50th or lower in the KenPom rankings, they really beat up on them. The Razorbacks have beaten such teams by an average margin of 23.8 points. 

But when Arkansas has faced quality opponents inside the top 50 of the KenPom rankings, it’s winless.

Arkansas has also been a different team at home than on the road. The Razorbacks have won 12 of their 13 contests at the Bud Walton Arena while putting up just a 2-4 record on the road.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Although Kentucky is the 56th-ranked team in the nation according to KenPom, it boasts the talent of a top-50 team. The public will see a one-point spread involving a 14-5 team vs. a 5-12 team and jump all over the Razorbacks.

And they will lose. 

Kentucky held a double-digit lead over Tennessee for the majority of the game its last time out before going cold and losing by 11, but the Wildcats showed flashes of great potential.

The Razorbacks flounder against quality opponents and struggle on the road. I’m taking the more talented Wildcats to come out victorious at home.

Pick: Kentucky +1 (up to -2).

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