College Basketball Odds & Picks for Kentucky vs. Arkansas: Back the Road Underdog
Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Oscar Tshiebwe
- Kentucky travels to Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks in an SEC affair.
- The Wildcats have had some injury issues in their backcourt, as TyTy Washington Jr. and Sahvir Wheeler have been out.
- Doug Ziefel breaks down the matchup and offers up his pick.
Kentucky vs. Arkansas Odds
-115o / -105u
-115o / -105u
Another Saturday, another big SEC matchup. The sixth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats go on the road to Fayetteville, Ark., where they’ll face the 18th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks.
Eric Musselman and his squad have become no strangers to marquee matchups as they have taken down the likes of Auburn and Tennessee. This matchup has one thing in common with those two victories: It will take place at Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks faithful will undoubtedly be out, and it will be a harsh environment for the Wildcats to step into.
However, the Wildcats are proving that no amount of adversity seems to bother them as they have defeated Alabama and LSU without their starting backcourt. That credit is due to coach John Calipari as his mixture of savvy veterans and young talent has withstood the ups and downs of the conference schedule.
Can they pass another difficult test on Saturday?
Calipari said that there is no update regarding the statuses of both Tyty Washington and Savir Wheeler at the time of this article’s publication. While the impact of not having your starting backcourt may seem massive, the Kentucky offense has been just fine.
Against Alabama, the Wildcats had a 60.5 effective field goal percentage and 141.4 offensive efficiency rating, which was the highest of any team last Saturday. They followed that up by erasing an 11-point deficit in the second half to LSU and eventually led by 15 on their way to a win.
Regardless of whether Kentucky has its guards back or not, expect Oscar Tshiebwe to make his presence felt. The Kentucky big man is currently the odds-on favorite for the Wooden Award, which comes as no surprise. Tshiebwe is averaging 16.4 points and 15.3 rebounds this season. In addition, he is the number one rebounder in the country as he leads the nation in both offensive and defensive rebounding rates.
It is that rebounding prowess that can give the Razorbacks trouble. While Arkansas does have Jaylin Williams — an excellent rebounder in his own right — Williams has not dealt with anyone like Tshiebwe this year.
Lastly, Big O has stepped up over the last two games as he posted his two highest offensive performances according to his offensive rating since January.
The Arkansas Razorbacks are in the midst of an incredible campaign, and a big reason for that is JD Notae. He has been a scoring machine this season, averaging almost 19 points per game. However, his backcourt mates have also played a significant role in the efficiency of the Arkansas offense. Stanley Umude and Au’Diese Toney have shot nearly 55 percent this season from inside the arc.
Arkansas’ guard performance will only be enhanced if Kentucky is indeed without Wheeler and Washington. In the two games without them, the Wildcats have allowed their opposition to shoot to a 49.3 effective field goal percentage.
Now, Kentucky did step it up a notch in their comeback effort against LSU, but that was done while allowing Xavier Pinson to drop 26 points. The story was similar against Alabama as Keon Ellis and Jaden Shackelford combined to go 12-for-23 from behind the arc. Kentucky has been fortunate while shorthanded, but the Razorbacks have the talent to exploit it.
Kentucky vs. Arkansas Betting Pick
The result of this matchup has sizeable implications as we draw ever closer to March, and it looks like Arkansas has already made plans for when they win this game as this message was sent to fans by their AD:
Arkansas AD Hunter Yurachek sent a message to Razorback basketball fans asking them not to storm the court "IF" Arkansas upsets Kentucky: "IF we’re fortunate enough to take down the No. 3 Wildcats, we’re taking the celebration to you this time!"
— On3 (@On3sports) February 25, 2022
That is some serious bulletin board material for the Wildcats.
Exterior motivation aside, the Razorbacks are going to struggle with Tshiebwe down low, and if they double, Kentucky could make them pay from the outside with Davion Mintz and Kellan Grady.
The Cats go into Fayetteville and get the job done.
Pick: Kentucky +2.5
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