Alabama vs Arkansas Odds, Predictions, Picks | NCAAB Betting Preview
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Arkansas Razorbacks basketball player Nick Smith Jr.
Alabama vs Arkansas Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Few teams have been as dominant in their own conference than Alabama has in the SEC. The Tide have steamrolled to a 14-1 record and are staring down the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament.
After a near-loss on the road, Alabama returns to Tuscaloosa and welcomes in Arkansas. The Razorbacks are trending up, with wins in two straight games while they slowly return to full health.
These are two of KenPom’s top-15 teams and it sets up to be one of the best games of Saturday’s jam-packed slate.
Can Alabama roll to another SEC win despite the news that has casted over the program, or will Arkansas win its third straight?
The million-dollar question for Alabama: Can it finish the season strong with all the recent news surrounding star freshman Brandon Miller?
The Tide were able to stave off an upset-hungry South Carolina team in overtime, but they now return home for one of their tallest tasks yet.
Nate Oats’ offense is simple. The Tide are one of the fastest teams in the country and they let it rain from 3. Nearly half of Alabama’s shots come from the perimeter, where they rank just outside the top 100 at 35.4%.
Miller has been the team’s best shooter (43.1%) and scored 41 points against South Carolina, including the game-winner. He’s the star of this offense and has the No. 1 offensive rating in SEC play. He’s third in both 2-point and 3-point shooting, too.
This is such a well-rounded Alabama offense despite its volatility. The Tide rank 43rd in 2-point offense and firmly inside the top five in free-throw rate and offensive rebounding.
Turnovers can become an issue — especially given the Tide’s run-and-gun nature — but otherwise, the Tide are strong on both ends of the floor.
While Alabama doesn’t force many turnovers, its extended on-ball pressure and length forces opponents off the perimeter. The Tide rank second in 3-point defense and first inside.
Alabama is at its best defending finishes at the rim and in the pick-and-roll. The big duo of Noah Clowney and Charles Bediako both rank inside the top 15 in block rate (Bediako is fifth).
The Tide defense has sustained such dominant numbers through 28 games of the season, but there are indicators that suggest negative regression — at least slightly.
Based on the looks Alabama surrenders, ShotQuality projects opponents to find more success. For example, opponents have a 47% success rate at the rim and 26% from the perimeter.
ShotQuality has that projected closer to 55% and 33%, respectively.
Head coach Eric Musselman has had his hands full this season. He lost star Nick Smith Jr. for the majority of the season and Trevon Brazile suffered a torn ACL.
A transfer- and freshmen-heavy Arkansas roster has won two straight and looks as though an at-large bid is inevitable.
Smith returned to action on Feb. 11 against Mississippi State, but after struggling for two games, it seems as though the star freshman has knocked the rust off. He’s missed 19 games this season stemming from a knee injury.
Smith scored 26 points in a blowout win against Georgia and added 10 against Florida the game prior. He’s the team’s most consistent 3-point shooter and adds not only depth, but athleticism and a scoring prowess that the Razorbacks truly lacked.
Arkansas is one of the deadliest teams in transition and thrives on attacking inside. This is a team that ranks outside the top 300 in 3-point shooting but is 20th in 2-point offense. The Razorbacks shoot 3s on just 28.1% of field goals.
A majority of their offense is predicated on the pick-and-roll or isolation ball with the intention of getting to the rim.
Wichita State transfer Ricky Council IV has stepped up as a driving force in leading the offense without Smith and leads the team in scoring (16.6).
The Razorbacks are hard to stop once they get going downhill, and they get to the line at a high rate. They’re about league average in turnover rate and offensive rebounding.
As you’d expect, their length translates well on the defensive end. Arkansas is firmly inside the top 15 in 2-point defense and 19th in eFG%. The Razorbacks are a disruptive group that forces turnovers at a high rate.
Arkansas’ defense is predicated on 3-point denial and funneling opponents inside. Of all shots taken by their opponents, 63% come in either the mid-range or at the rim.
The Razorbacks also rank inside the top 30 in assist rate on defense, forcing a lot of isolation looks.
Alabama vs Arkansas Betting Pick
The market has yet to fully come around on Arkansas, and I intend to buy low in this spot. The Razorbacks have finally begun to use Smith more, and his presence alone brings another gear to this Razorbacks offense.
We’ve seen Arkansas rout both Florida and Georgia, and this is just too many points, even against an Alabama team with a sparkling 14-1 SEC record.
The Tide did not look all there against South Carolina — aside from Miller — and the news that’s shadowed over the program could continue to serve as a disruptor.
Arkansas has the ability to match Alabama’s size inside and its 2-point funnel defense should be an issue for a Tide team that relies on the perimeter.
Alabama also deals with turnover issues often and its guards should struggle against a physical Razorbacks backcourt.
Despite the money initially bumping Alabama up from a 7.5 to 9.5-point favorite, I don’t think the market has taken into account Arkansas’ fully healthy roster and everything that’s surrounding the Alabama basketball team.
This is too many points in a slugfest of an SEC bout.
Pick: Arkansas +9 (Play to +8)
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