A couple of squads fighting for the No. 2 seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament collide Tuesday when the Arkansas Razorbacks hosts Texas A&M in a college basketball odds battle.
It's a foregone conclusion that Kentucky will win the Southeastern Conference regular season title, but that hasn't stopped the rest of the league from clawing and scratching for the precious spots just behind the Wildcats.
That's because the top four seeds in the SEC Tournament get a 2-round bye when things get underway in Nashville on March 11. Two of those slots are currently occupied by the Texas A&M Aggies and Arkansas Razorbacks who meet Tuesday, the winner of the 9 PM (ET) broadcast on ESPN in the driver's seat for the No. 2 seed in the league tourney.
The NCAA basketball odds caught the Razorbacks going out at -6½, that spread now up a point following overnight wagering.
Of the 150 previous meetings, only four have come since Arkansas left the SWC following the 1991 campaign, three of those after Texas A&M shifted to the SEC. The Razorbacks lead the series with a 97-53 mark, though the Aggies have won three of the last four. You have to go back 29 years to find the last time Arkansas dropped a home tilt to A&M.
Tuesday is the first matchup between the two since both teams' conference opener a season ago, A&M posting a 69-53 win as a 2 point home underdog. Arkansas entered that contest averaging more than 87 PPG before Aggie defenders limited the Hogs to just 21 field goals and came away with 10 steals.
Aggies Seeking 6th Conference Road Dubya
Texas A&M (19-7 straight up, 14-10 against the spread) continues to exceed expectations for the 2014-15 campaign, their fourth under head coach Billy Kennedy. A 30/1 pick to win the conference title on the NCAA futures odds, the Aggies are just a win away from a 20th victory for the first time since the 2010-11 season, their final year under former coach Mark Turgeon.
A big key for the Aggies has been their play away from home, winning five of seven SEC road tilts and covering the spread in each victory, three of those spread-beaters as the underdog.
As you'd expect with any team under Kennedy's supervision, defense is stressed to the Nth degree. Only Kentucky is allowing fewer points per game in league action than Texas A&M, and the Aggies lead the SEC in limiting opponents to 38.5% field goal success.
Hogs Rolling With 6-Game Win Streak
Arkansas (22-5 SU, 14-12 ATS) has overcome two early conference setbacks to win nine of its last 10 trips to the floor, the last six in a row. While backing the Razorbacks hasn't been profitable of late, 5-7 vs. the NCAA odds the last 12, 'under' bettors are raking it in with seven winners in the last nine games.
Mike Anderson's crew needed a late run at Mississippi State last Saturday to escape Starkville with a 65-61 win as 7½ point road chalk. Arkansas trailed by two with under seven minutes to play, and needed to go 5-5 from the free throw line in the final half-minute to get the triumph.
Bobby Portis, Arkansas' leading scorer (17.4 ppg), missed practices last week due to a virus but still managed to play 28 minutes against the Bulldogs and scored 13 points. He's officially probable for the Texas A&M tilt and has a 22-game double-digit scoring streak on the line.
The Hogs should win this one, but I'm liking the Aggies to stay within the spread for my free college basketball picks
NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas A&M +7.5 at 5Dimes
Season: 52-45-2 (+2.5)