Saturday College Basketball Betting Previews: TCU-Kansas State, Arkansas-Ole Miss
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kansas State guard Barry Brown Jr. (5), TCU guard Alex Robinson (25).
With the NFL conference championships looming on Sunday, we are fortunate to have a full slate of college basketball games to fill our Saturday thirst for action.
Among a robust 150 game schedule exists a Big 12 and SEC matchup that both deserve closer looks. In the Big 12, the Kansas State Wildcats host the TCU Horned Frogs and in the SEC the Mississippi Rebels will have a visit from the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Let’s handicap these two Power Five conference showdowns.
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Betting Odds: Arkansas Razorbacks at Mississippi Rebels
- Spread: Mississippi -6.5
- Over/Under: 153.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV: SECN
The Razorbacks (10-6) are in the midst of a three-game SEC losing streak, including a bad 106-87 road loss at Tennessee on Tuesday. Arkansas is just 7-9 against the spread with their only conference road win coming at Texas A&M 73-71.
The Razorbacks’ 53rd best adjusted-defensive efficiency has gone missing. Arkansas has given up an average of 100 points in their last two games, allowing those opponents to shoot 52% from the field and a blistering 48.8% from 3-point range.
That lack of defense is a problem for a Razorbacks team that is mediocre on offense. They rank 163rd in effective field goal percentage, 193rd in 3-point percentage, and a miserable 324th in free throw percentage.
Sophomore forward Daniel Gafford (17.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg) will need to avoid foul trouble. He has totaled four or more fouls in each of the last four games.
The Rebels (13-3, 11-2 ATS) were one of the hottest teams in the country, riding a 10-game winning streak before losing to LSU 83-69 at home. That run included three consecutive SEC wins and dismantling Auburn at home 82-67.
The loss to LSU was disappointing, but doesn’t take away from the Rebels’ great overall season. Head coach Kermit Davis has guided one of the nation’s most efficient offenses, ranking 17th in effective field goal percentage.
Mississippi shoots over 37% as a team from beyond the arc, with four players shooting 38% or better. Guards Breein Tyree (17.2 ppg) and Terence Davis (16.1 ppg) are complete scorers who also disrupt the opposing backcourt on defense.
The key to the Rebels’ success is their versatility, with four players averaging four or more rebounds per game, and three players totaling three or more assists per game. They can also close out games on the free throw line shooting 74.8% as a team.
The Razorbacks’ recent defensive struggles will be a problem at Ole Miss. The Rebels rank 23rd in the country in limiting the opposition from inside the arc, which means Arkansas won’t win a high-scoring game.
The Rebels will be ready to rebound from the LSU loss and the Razorbacks 100-point per game defense can’t be improved that quickly.
With an explosive offense, top 50 offensive rebounding percentage, and great free throw shooting, the Rebels will return to the win column with a double-digit win over the reeling Razorbacks.
THE PICK: Ole Miss -6.5
Betting Odds: TCU Horned Frogs at Kansas State Wildcats
- Spread: Kansas State -1
- Over/Under: 133
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2
The Horned Frogs (13-3) are trying to find a new identity after learning this week that guard Jaylen Fisher is out for the season with a knee injury and officially leaving the program. TCU tallied eight straight wins after Fisher returned to the starting lineup from offseason surgery, but are just 2-2 since his departure.
TCU is an impressive 8-1 at home but just 1-2 in true road games. Their only home loss? A 73-64 defeat to Lipscomb, when Fisher played sparingly due to the injury.
The Wildcats are also identity searching but for a completely different reason. Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Dean Wade missed six games with a foot injury but is now completely healthy.
In the two games since his return, Kansas State earned tough Big 12 road wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma.
The Horned Frogs rank 30th in the country with a 55.3% effective FG percentage but have struggled without Fisher. In the two conference road games since his injury, TCU has only shot 38.8% (50 of 129) from the floor.
In those two games, the Horned Frogs have also committed 32 turnovers, clearly the result of missing their starting point guard.
Senior Alex Robinson has assumed his role, which has caused a drop in his own efficiency. In the last four games, Robinson’s field goal percentage is only 39% (18-of-46), dropping 11% since Fisher’s absence.
The return of Wade has dramatically improved the offense. In their last game at Oklahoma, the Wildcats shot 50% from the field and 45.5% from 3-point range. It was the first time Kansas State reached those numbers in a Big 12 road game this season.
Kansas State’s foundational defense has persevered during their offensive struggles. The Wildcats are fifth best in adjusted-defensive efficiency and 30th in defensive turnover percentage.
Senior guard Barry Brown Jr (15.8 ppg) has been carrying the Wildcats offense. Over the past four games, Brown is averaging 23.3 ppg. Wade’s return has opened up 3-point opportunities, which Brown has also enjoyed.
In the preseason, Kansas State was thought to be the biggest challenge to the 14-year Big 12 dominance of Kansas. Finally healthy, the Wildcats have won three consecutive conference games. Without Fisher, TCU’s offensive efficiency has dropped, and that’s a bad sign heading into a road game at the Octagon of Doom.
Kansas State is 5-1 in their last six games at home vs. TCU, with their only loss coming in overtime. A healthy Wade creates offensive opportunities which will be more than enough to supplement the Wildcats superior defense and defensive rebounding.
THE PICK: Kansas State -1