Saturday College Basketball Odds & Picks for Arkansas vs. LSU (Jan. 15)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Tari Eason.
- The Arkansas Razorbacks (11-5) and LSU Tigers (15-1) meet on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET for an intriguing SEC basketball matchup on ESPN2.
- LSU opened as 7-point favorites, but that point spread has been bet down to LSU -6.5 at most sportsbooks. The game total opened at 146 but now sits at 144.
- The Tigers are favored heavily against a competitive Razorbacks squad, but college basketball betting analyst Ky McKeon explains why you should hold your nose and lay the points with LSU.
Arkansas vs. LSU Odds
-115o / -105u
-115o / -105u
Two teams with very different seasons will be featured in an SEC afternoon affair on Saturday.
LSU comes into this contest a burly 15-1 with a top-15 ranking. Arkansas sits at just 11-5 and a disappointing 1-3 in conference play. The Hogs have lost five of their last seven contests.
Where does the betting value lie in this conference matchup? Let’s jump in.
Arkansas’ season has not gone the way most expected. Most thought Woo Pig Sooie was a top-15, even top-10 squad, but the Razorbacks have been anything but.
Two wins on a neutral floor over Kansas State and Cincinnati are the “highlights” of Arkansas’ sad tournament resume. Another loss to LSU tonight would send it to the SEC basement.
Perhaps Wednesday’s game against Missouri was the turning point. Arkansas beat the lowly Tigers by 44 points, scoring a gaudy 1.21 points per possession to Mizzou’s 0.60. It was a much-needed get-right game for Eric Musselman’s squad.
However, it’s hard to read too much into that.
For starters, Mizzou is a bad basketball team. Secondly, Arkansas is a completely different team in the friendly confines of Bud Walton Arena. Road Arkansas is a tier below.
The Razorbacks are 0-2 against the spread this season when away from home. Their losses have come against Mississippi State and Texas A&M, two of the non-elite SEC squads. LSU is leaps and bounds better than those teams. The Hogs should be shaking in their pens.
Musselman won’t be on the sidelines for today’s game, and that could prove to be enormous. He has been a major reason Arkansas has turned its program around.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that no head coach equals probably worse play from the team.
The circumstances revolving around Musselman’s absence are somewhat comical. He is recovering from shoulder rotator cuff surgery after one of his players landed on him in practice.
Whereas Arkansas is one of the worst against-the-spread road teams in the country, LSU is the very best ATS home team in the country. The Tigers sport a perfect 10-0 record against the number when at home and are covering by an average of 12.5 points per game. That is insanity.
Normally an offensive-minded team under Will Wade, LSU has been successful this season due to its lockdown defense. The Tigers boast the No. 1 adjusted defensive efficiency in the nation, per KenPom, BartTorvik, and Haslametrics.
Long, quick guards form a pesky perimeter shell, and the paint is anchored by one of the best defensive big men in the country in Tari Eason. Senior forward Darius Days is a five-tool player, able to guard anyone. And there’s a 7-foot 5-star freshman center in the mix as well.
Scoring against the Tigers this season has been nearly impossible — just ask Kentucky (0.85 PPP), Tennessee (0.93 PPP), and Florida (0.83 PPP).
Matchup-wise, LSU will have a colossal advantage in the paint against the smaller Razorbacks. Arkansas cannot match up with LSU’s size, but mostly its strength. The Hogs will find it difficult to score in the half-court and will likely come in with a game plan to run, run, run in transition at every opportunity.
Arkansas shoots in transition at a top-30 rate in the country, but the problem is LSU has no issue with this. The Tigers are perfectly comfortable guarding in the open floor and have the No. 1 eFG% defense in transition, per Hoop-Math, allowing just 34.8% this season.
If the Hogs attempt to play in the half-court, they limit their scoring ability tremendously. Arkansas scores 0.901 PPP in the half-court versus 1.108 PPP in transition, per Synergy.
LSU is allowing 0.605 PPP in transition (No. 1 in the country) and 0.711 PPP in the half-court (No. 3 in the nation). Arkansas is damned either way.
Arkansas vs. LSU Betting Pick
The spread is high, but it’s warranted.
Even potentially without the services of Xavier Pinson, one of LSU’s best offensive weapons, the Tigers should have no trouble controlling this game.
LSU’s terrific defense and its home-court advantage should propel it to the cover. Lay the points with LSU.