Arkansas thought it was hot stuff a moment ago, then got its ass kicked Saturday by Kentucky. But might that just set the Hogs up for a “bounce-back” play when they visit South Carolina Thursday night?
Hogs-Gamecocks Betting Odds
The NCAA Basketball odds opened this game with Arkansas favored by two points; many books then bumped the Hogs to -3 in the early action.
Hogs-Gamecocks: The Set-Up
Arkansas had won seven games in a row, until laying a big egg at Kentucky Saturday 84-67. The Hogs looked absolutely terrible, even intimidated, trailing by 16 at the half and 31 in the second half, failing against the spread as 15-point underdogs.
Arkansas shot just 38 percent from the floor Saturday, and just five-for-18 from 3-point range, missing its first nine trifecta tries in a row. We were surprised to see in the boxscore that the Hogs “only” turned the ball over 12 times Saturday; it seemed like a lot more than that.
Even with its recent winning streak Arkansas is 0-4 ATS over its last four games. Last Tuesday the Hogs beat Texas A&M 81-75, but missed on the cover at -7.
Nonetheless, at 23-6 overall, 12-4 in SEC play Arkansas is heading back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008. And the Hogs only need one win in their last two games, or a little help from elsewhere, to secure a double-bye for next week's SEC tournament.
South Carolina started 9-3 through non-conference play this season, but has gone just 5-11 in SEC play. Last time out the Gamecocks snapped a two-game losing streak, beating Mississippi State 81-68, covering as nine-point favorites. But that outcome probably tells us less about SC and more about how bad the Bulldogs are.
The Gamecocks only led MSU by five points early in the second half, but took over from there, earning just their third cover in SEC play. Also, the 81 points SC scored Saturday was its most in conference play this season by a long shot; its previous high was 68.
Last Wednesday South Carolina lost at Alabama 59-51, and just before that the 'Cocks lost at home to Texas A&M 62-52.
At 14-14 overall, 10-16 ATS this season South Carolina remains, at best, a work in progress under Coach Martin, and a poor betting proposition.
South Carolina is shooting just 40 percent from the field this season, and 29 percent from 3-point land, but holding opponents to just 39 percent FG shooting, which ranks in the top 20 in the country.
Arkansas is shooting 45 percent from the floor, while holding opponents to 43 percent shooting.
The Recent Rivalry
These teams have alternated wins over the last eight games in this series, following Arkansas' 75-55 victory over SC back a month ago in Fayetteville. The Hogs led that game by seven at the half, then broke away in the second half, and covered as eight-point favorites.
Arkansas only shot 39 percent from the floor that game, but held the Gamecocks to 28 percent shooting and won the turnover battle by a 20-9 margin.
That game also stayed UNDER its total of 141.
Hogs-Gamecocks Betting Trends
Arkansas is 15-12 on the totals this season, as Hogs games have averaged 149 points.
South Carolina is trending toward the UNDERS this season by a 16-8 margin, as Gamecocks games have averaged 127 points.
Hogs-Gamecocks Free Pick
We totally whiffed with Arkansas against Kentucky Saturday, but at least the Hogs got that stinker out of their system. Now they can forge ahead and try to do some damage from here on out. So in figuring Arkansas might bounce back from Saturday's debacle we'll take the Hogs tonight, the better team at a short spread with our NCAA basketball picks.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Arkansas -2.5 at 5Dimes