NCAAB Betting Guide | Kentucky vs Arkansas Odds, Picks
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky)
Kentucky vs Arkansas Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Kentucky looks to remain red hot when it travels to Fayetteville to take on Arkansas.
Kentucky was starting to get hot at the right time before shockingly losing at home to Vanderbilt on Wednesday.
To say John Calipari’s team has underperformed would be an understatement, but Kentucky is still projected to be a No. 6 seed in the tournament. Winning this game and making a run in the SEC Tournament could boost the Wildcats up to the four or five line.
Arkansas is going through a tough point in its schedule, as it’s coming off back-to-back losses on the road to Alabama and Tennessee.
Eric Musselman’s squad got its uber-talented freshman Nick Smith Jr. back in the lineup recently. However, Arkansas is only projected to be an eight seed, so it must win this game and make a run in the SEC Tournament to improve that.
It’s been a weird season in Lexington for one of the blue bloods of college basketball. Kentucky is sitting at 20-10 overall and 11-6 in SEC, but the Wildcats’ metrics grade them out as a top-25 team in the country.
The Wildcats ‘offense has been really good during SEC play, ranking second in the conference in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency.
That’s mainly because of how good they’ve been down low. Kentucky is third in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and has the lowest 3-point rate in the conference.
However, the Wildcats tend to settle for a lot of mid-range jumpers. In fact, it’s where 29% of their field goal attempts are coming from, which is the fifth-highest frequency in the country, per ShotQuality.
The problem is they’re only shooting 38% on those mid-range jumpers, so that will have to improve if they’re going to attempt that many shots from there.
In the previous meeting with Arkansas, Kentucky scored 20 of its 73 points from the mid-range. But the biggest difference in the game was how effective each team was in transition.
Image via ShotQuality
Kentucky is a fairly high frequency transition team, so it’ll have to improve if it wants to beat Arkansas this time around.
The defensive end of the floor has been a bit of a struggle for the Wildcats this season. They’re ninth in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency during SEC play and defending in transition has really been their biggest weakness, ranking 298th PPP allowed in that area.
Kentucky is very good at defending in the half-court, though, allowing the 12th-fewest PPP. The Wildcats are very effective at defending the rim, too, allowing only 57%, which is where 42% of Arkansas’ shot attempts come from.
The Razorbacks have been up-and-down all season long and have not been good in SEC play, currently sitting with an 8-9 record.
The biggest addition for Arkansas as of late is its five-star freshman Smith, who’s finally starting to get ingrained in the offense. In the last three games, he’s attempted 50 shots and poured in 62 points.
He’s a much needed addition for an Arkansas offense that has lacked consistency this season. The Razorbacks are eighth in the SEC in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, with almost all of their effectiveness coming at the rim and in transition.
Arkansas is 10th in PPP in transition and 21st in PPP in shot attempts at the rim.
However, outside of that it’s pretty bleak. The Razorbacks are only shooting 32.1% from 3-point range and 69.6% from the free-throw line despite getting there at a top-40 rate.
The defensive side of the ball has been very good for Arkansas, which is 11th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, per KenPom. The Razorbacks are the No. 1 team in the SEC in defending at the rim, allowing just 51%. That’s obviously big against Kentucky.
Arkansas is also only allowing 34% and 0.73 PPP on mid-range jumpers, which is massive against Kentucky.
So, if it can defend the rim and mid-range jumpers well and force Kentucky to take a high number of 3-pointers, the Razorbacks should be able to hold Kentucky under 1.00 PPP — just like they did in the first meeting.
Kentucky vs Arkansas Betting Pick
Arkansas shot the lights out in the first meeting with Kentucky, but just because Smith is back and ingrained into the offense doesn’t mean the Razorbacks are going to put up 88 points again.
Image via ShotQuality
Kentucky is out for revenge from the previous meeting, and if it doesn’t get torched in transition and is able to defend at the rim at a high level, it should be able to hang with Arkansas.
So, I like the value on the Wildcats at +5.5 (FanDuel) in Fayetteville.
Pick: Kentucky +5.5
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