There are seven SEC games on Saturday’s college basketball odds board, including Arkansas at No. 2 Alabama. Let’s break down my college basketball best bets for this matchup, as the Razorbacks fight to improve their NCAA tournament resume.
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No. 2 Alabama vs. Arkansas: Betting Odds
Why Arkansas Can Cover
From a situational standpoint, Arkansas is catching Alabama at an ideal time. The Crimson Tide are coming off an emotional scare at lowly South Carolina on Wednesday, requiring a historic 41-point performance from Brandon Miller for them to emerge victorious.
Outside of Miller, Alabama’s offense appeared uninterested and lackluster for the majority of the game. With the same kind of effort, it could be on upset alert again on Saturday against Arkansas.
These two teams squared off in Jan. 11, in which Nate Oats’ squad won 84-69. In this meeting, Devo Davis was tasked with slowing down the aforementioned Miller. Davis did a tremendous job, limiting Miller to a donut in the first half while forcing Alabama to look elsewhere for offense.
If Davis can replicate that effort for a full 40 minutes, the Hogs could pull off the upset. Keep in mind, star freshman Nick Smith didn’t suit up in their first matchup because of “right knee management.” With Smith back in the lineup, this matchup changes considerably.
Defensively, Arkansas has been one of the better teams in the country, boasting the 14th-rated in adjusted defensive efficiency (per KenPom). In particular, it has excelled at generating takeaways. The Razorbacks force 14.5 turnovers a game, which ranks No. 56 nationally. Their ability to force miscues against the turnover-prone Tide will play a critical role in determining the final outcome.
Despite Alabama collecting the 44th-highest offensive rebounding rate across D-I, Makhi Mitchell represents one of the premier defensive rebounders in the country. His success in that department, paired with the length of Arkansas’ guards, should limit the Tide’s second-chance opportunities.
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On the flip side, Arkansas’ offense has struggled this season. The long ball is a big reason why, as the Razorbacks are making just 31.5% of their 3-point attempts, which ranks a measly No. 310 nationally. Their poor shooting has allowed opponents to play zone and force the Razorbacks to make perimeter shots.
In their previous contest, the Tide’s defense executed a soft man-to-man structure while daring them to shoot from the perimeter. This game plan proved to be effective, as Musselman’s bunch only connected on a pair of perimeter looks. That being said, the Razorbacks are due for some positive regression from deep if Smith’s 3-point touch continues to showcase itself.
Why Alabama Can Cover
From top to bottom, the Tide possess one of the most potent offensive attacks in the nation. The Tide rank No. 14 in adjusted offensive efficiency, in large part due to their ability to connect from beyond the arc and get to the charity stripe.
Their prowess in that department can be utilized against an Arkansas squad that struggles to defend without fouling. The Razorbacks allow their opponents to score 19.9% of their points from the free throw line. That’s good for the 87th-highest rate nationally.
They also commit 18.6 fouls per game, which ranks No. 290 in D-I. If Arkansas is unable to stay out of foul trouble, Alabama could score a plethora of points from the line. It notched 36 free-throw attempts the first time around.
Additionally, Alabama thrives when they are able to dictate tempo, ranking top five in the country in adjusted tempo. Its fast-paced attack was on full display at Bud Walton Arena, scoring 24 fast-break points because of Arkansas’ terrible shot selection and turnovers, respectively. If the Tide can dictate tempo on their home court, the Razorbacks will find themselves in trouble once again.
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College Basketball Best Bets Conclusion
While Alabama may come away with an outright win, there’s value in backing a motivated Arkansas team. This game represents a classic revenge spot, as well as an opportunity for Arkansas to build tournament resume. It faces Tennessee and Kentucky to close out the regular season next week, neither of which would be more impressive than beating the Tide on their home court.
The best available line is currently Arkansas . Good luck on your own college basketball best bets. For more, check out our college basketball power rankings.
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