Kentucky has held off all comers so far this season, winning 28 games in a row, but might be in for one of its toughest tests when it hosts Arkansas Saturday afternoon. What's our take on this game?
Hogs-'Cats Betting Odds
Most of the SBR NCAA basketball betting odds market opened this game with Kentucky favored by 14.5 points, and that number was holding steady in the early betting.
At 28-0 overall, 15-0 in SEC play Kentucky is shooting for solo possession of a conference title, a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament and eternal glory.
Wednesday the Wildcats won at Mississippi State 74-56, pushing the spread at -18. Kentucky led by nine at the half, let the Bulldogs get within four with about 15 minutes to go, then hit the gas and pulled away. The 'Cats led by 24 with just over six minutes go, but let the cover slip away near the end.
Kentucky shot 49 percent from the floor Wednesday, and held MSU to 37 percent shooting.
Just before that the Wildcats had covered three games in a row, at -18 over South Carolina, -13 at Tennessee and -25 over Auburn. However, just prior to that Kentucky had lost five in a row ATS, because it was – and continues to be – favored by so darn much.
Arkansas, meanwhile, has won seven in a row, after topping Texas A&M Tuesday 81-75. The Hogs jumped out to a 10-0 lead, led by 23 at halftime, but allowed the Aggies to rally all the way back to within two points at 74-72, before re-establishing control. But in giving up that big late rally Arkansas pissed away the cover as a seven-point favorite.
The Hogs shot 51 percent from the field Tuesday, made 10 of 24 three-point attempts and won the turnover battle 20-10.
Last Saturday Arkansas won at Mississippi State 65-61 but missed on the cover at -7. And just prior to that the Hogs beat Missouri 84-69 but missed on the cover at -17. So they've also been fighting the lines as of late.
Big-picture, at 23-5 overall and 12-3 in conference play Arkansas sits in second place in the SEC, and will make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.
The Recent Rivalry
This is the first meeting this season between these two teams. Last season Arkansas swept two games from Kentucky, both in overtime. First the Hogs nipped the 'Cats in Fayetteville 87-85 on a put-back basket just before the buzzer in OT; then they upset Kentucky in Lexington 71-67, taking that game outright as 10-point betting underdogs.
In fact, the Razorbacks have won four of the last five meetings in this series, going 4-1 ATS in the process.
By the Numbers
Arkansas is shooting 45 percent from the floor this season, 36 percent from 3-point range and 72 percent from the FT line. At the other end of the court the Razorbacks are holding opponents to just under 43 percent FG shooting.
Kentucky is shooting 47 percent from the floor, 35 percent from long range and 71 percent from the line, while holding foes to just 34 percent FG shooting, which leads the nation.
Hogs-'Cats Betting Trends
Arkansas is 14-12 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as Hogs games have averaged 149 points.
Kentucky is leaning toward the UNDERS this season by a 17-11 margin, as Wildcats games have averaged 127 points. However, UK has played seven OVERS in its last nine games, mainly because it's been playing against some very low totals.
Arkansas is 4-1 ATS as an underdog this season.
Hogs-'Cats Free Pick
Kentucky is the class of the country, but it's also been beating up on a mediocre SEC. This game gives us a much better idea of how good the Wildcats might be, and perhaps what the lines should be when the 'Cats run into good teams come tournament time. On the other side of this match-up this game gives Arkansas a chance to show what it can do on a big-time stage, against a big-time foe.
Kentucky is great, yes, and might well extend its winning streak to 29 games. But the Hogs have enough to keep this one interesting. Also, that spread seems inflated. So we'll take Arkansas for our free college basketball pick on this contest.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Arkansas at +14.5 at Pinnacle