Arkansas vs. Auburn College Basketball Odds & Picks: Bet the Razorbacks as Short Favorites
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Bruce Pearl.
- SEC play gets underway on Tuesday when Arkansas takes on Auburn.
- The Razorbacks are undefeated but haven't played a very tough schedule, while Auburn awaits word on the status of Sharife Cooper.
- BJ Cunningham explains why he is still backing Arkansas as a road favorite.
Arkansas vs. Auburn Odds
|Arkansas Odds||-3.5 [BET NOW]|
|Auburn Odds||+3.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-180 / +150|
|Over/Under||147 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET|
Arkansas looks to keep its perfect record intact on Wednesday when it heads to Auburn to open up SEC play.
The Razorbacks played an extremely easy non-conference schedule, as they did not play anybody inside the top 100 in the KenPom rankings. However, they took care of business in those games, winning by double digits in all eight.
Head coach Eric Musselman has almost a completely new squad this season, with Desi Sills as the only returning contributor. Arkansas has had to rely on a handful of transfers, but everything is going according to plan so far. Can the Razorbacks keep it going and win their first major test of the season?
Bruce Pearl lost five starters from last season’s Auburn team, and it showed early on with losses to Gonzaga and UCF. However, the Tigers ripped off five straight wins since then, including a win over Memphis on a neutral court.
Coming into the season, Auburn’s hopes were contingent upon five-star freshman point guard Sharife Cooper. However, Cooper has yet to play because his eligibility is being reviewed by the NCAA. He has been practicing with the team, but his status remains up in the air.
Other than Cooper, it’s pretty bleak for the Tigers, who are going to have to rely on freshmen and bench players from last season.
When Arkansas has the ball
Musselman’s offense is a pace-and-space kind of attack in which the Razorbacks do not crash the offensive glass. His teams like to get out and run with quick ball movement and shoot a lot of 3-pointers. Last season, Arkansas went away from that because it went to a lot of isolation ball through Isaiah Joe, who is now in the NBA.
So far this season, the Razorbacks have gone back to Musselman’s identity, attempting 3-pointers for 41% of their shots, per KenPom. They’ve also improved their assist rate from 47.2% last season to 51.9%. Additionally, even though Musselman teams don’t typically crash the offensive glass, Arkansas has the 19th-ranked offensive-rebounding rate in the country.
Pearl’s team has had to rely solely on underclassmen this season, but Auburn has been pretty solid defensively, especially in its last two games, giving up only 41 points to Troy and 53 to Appalachian State. Auburn is a pretty big team with every guard standing taller than 6-foot-5. That will come in handy against a smaller Arkansas backcourt.
Auburn also has excelled at defending the 3, allowing its opponents to shoot just 29.2% from beyond the arc. That will come in handy against this Arkansas team that takes a ton of 3s.
When Auburn has the ball
For the Tigers, it’s very simple: They live and die by the 3-ball. Over half of their field goal attempts this season (51% per KenPom) have come from behind the arc, which is the 11th-highest rate in the country. That’s all well and good, except for the fact that Auburn is shooting just 32.5% on 3-point shots this season.
Auburn’s offensive philosophy is very similar to Arkansas, as both look to push the pace. The Tigers rank 51st in tempo, per KenPom, and average only 15.7 seconds per possession. That fast pace hasn’t quite worked for this young team so far, as evidenced by Auburn’s turnover issues. The Tigers have coughed up the basketball on 23% of their possessions, which ranks among the bottom 100 in Division-I.
Even with a whole new cast of players, Arkansas has drastically improved on defense. However, a lot of that was due to its easy schedule. The Razorbacks rank 32nd in defensive efficiency, per KenPom, and are top-20 in effective field goal percentage allowed.
They’ve done a fantastic job keeping opponents off the offensive glass and defending the 3-ball, two areas that are very important when facing Auburn since there will be a lot of long-rebounding opportunities given how many 3-pointers the Tigers attempt.
For Arkansas to escape with a victory, it will need to shut down Auburn in those two areas.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Arkansas has looked like the better team to start this season, given how inexperienced Auburn is.
The Razorbacks’ defense should be able to shut down the Tigers’ fast-paced offense if they can hold them to a low shooting percentage. Auburn is also turning the ball over at a very concerning rate, which should play right into Arkansas’ hands.
With Cooper out, I have Arkansas projected as a -3.77 favorite, so I think there’s some value on the Razorbacks at -2. However, I wouldn’t play it any lower than that number.
Pick: Arkansas -2.