Arkansas vs. LSU College Basketball Odds & Pick: How to Bet Based on Cam Thomas’ Injury Status
Wesley Hitt/Getty Image. Pictured: Davonte Davis.
Arkansas vs. LSU Odds
Arkansas heads to Baton Rouge on Wednesday to battle with LSU.
The Razorbacks started the season 9-0 but have lost two of their last three games. The Razorbacks are flying high on offense this season, but they’ll be going up against the best offense in the SEC. Will they be able to keep up on the road?
LSU’s offense has been lighting up the scoreboard this season, leading the Tigers to an 8-2 start. Will Wade has so much talent in Baton Rouge that the Tigers are poised to battle Tennessee for the top spot in the SEC. However, LSU’s ultra-talented five-star freshman Cam Thomas is a game-time decision for Wednesday’s matchup with Arkansas.
Thomas is the team’s leading scorer (22.3 points per game) — so if he is out, it will be a big blow for LSU.
#LSU guard Cam Thomas (ankle) got some shots up again Tuesday, Will Wade says, but Thomas will be a gametime decision for Wednesday night's contest with Arkansas. 🐯
— Sheldon Mickles (@MicklesAdvocate) January 12, 2021
When Arkansas has the ball
Eric Musselman’s pace-and-space offense enables the Razorbacks to play at the 24th-fastest tempo in the country. The Arkansas offense has been humming during SEC play, averaging 1.09 points per possession, and recently putting up 1.21 points per possession against Georgia last Saturday. Arkansas loves to shoot a ton of 3s and has been shooting the ball well during conference play (37.1% on 3-point attempts, per KenPom).
The only area Arkansas has somewhat struggled with is crashing the offensive glass. Mussleman’s offenses don’t typically rebound at a high rate on offense, and this year is no different: The Razorbacks rank ninth in the SEC in offensive rebound rate. However, defensive rebounding is one of LSU’s weaknesses, so the Razorbacks may want to crash the offensive glass more often on Wednesday.
LSU’s Achilles heel over the past few years has been its defense. Nonetheless, this season the Tigers have made positive strides, allowing only 1.00 point per possession in SEC play versus 1.09 points allowed per possession in 2019-20.
However, they are still struggling in a few key areas, starting with defending the paint. The Tigers allow over 57% from 2-point range and have one of the lowest block rates in the SEC. Arkansas’ offense has been pretty average in the paint since SEC play began, so the Razorbacks will need to take advantage of LSU’s weakness if they are going to escape Baton Rouge with a victory.
When LSU has the ball
The Tigers are one of the best shooting teams in the country and are the No. 5-ranked offense in terms of efficiency, according to KenPom. They’ve been dominant in SEC play, getting to the rim at an above-average rate and avoiding settling for 3-point attempts. As a result, the team is averaging 1.12 points per possession in-conference, which is the highest mark in the SEC.
LSU is top-40 in 2-point percentage, free throw percentage and free throw rate. So, Arkansas better be ready to defend the paint well on Wednesday.
However, the offense runs through Thomas (game-time decision), who is quite literally a walking bucket. Thomas has taken 36.4% of LSU’s field goal attempts and has shot over 43% from the floor. If he is unavailable to play, it will be a major blow to LSU’s offense.
The Razorbacks’ defensive issues during conference play may be traced to one key area on the floor: The paint. Arkansas has allowed opponents to shoot over 53% from 2-point range, and the team is committing fouls at an astronomical rate. The Razorbacks report one of the worst free throw rates allowed in the conference (44.7%), which does not bode well against LSU — a team that gets to the free throw line as frequently as any team in the country.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The value in this game is going to be dependent on the status of Cam Thomas. He is the heart and soul of LSU’s offense, and based on my projections, Thomas is worth 4.38 points to the spread.
If he is able to play, I don’t think there is much value on this game or the total. However, if Thomas is out, then I’ll back the Razorbacks at +2.5 and would bet it down to a pick’em.
Pick: Arkansas +2.5 (If Cam Thomas is out)