Kentucky vs. Arkansas Basketball Odds & Prediction (2/26/22)

Eddie Griffin

As we head into March, Kentucky is firmly in the mix for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. To edge out the other top-seed hopefuls like Purdue, Baylor, Kansas, and Gonzaga, the Wildcats need to make the most of any resume-building opportunities they have. Their best remaining opportunity comes today, as they visit Arkansas, one of the nation’s hottest teams.

The Wildcats currently trail Auburn by a game in the SEC standings with three games remaining for both teams. Due to their head-to-head loss at Auburn, Kentucky needs to win out and have the Tigers to stumble twice against either Tennessee, Mississippi State, or South Carolina to claim the outright SEC title and the #1 seed in the SEC Tournament.

To uphold their end of the scenario today, they will have to go into one of the toughest places to play in college basketball and knock off a team that is absolutely sizzling. The Razorbacks have won 12 of their past 13 games and have beaten Auburn and Tennessee in their most recent home games.

Kentucky and Arkansas have had a number of memorable games since the Razorbacks joined the SEC three decades ago? Will we have another one in this matchup?

Kentucky vs. Arkansas College Basketball Matchup Info and Betting Odds

Matchup Information

  • Game Matchup: #6 Kentucky Wildcats (23-5, 12-3 SEC, 2nd in the SEC) vs. #18 Arkansas Razorbacks (22-6, 11-4 SEC, t-3rd in the SEC)
  • Venue & Location: Bud Walton Arena (Fayetteville, Arkansas)
  • Date: Saturday, February 26, 2022
  • Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS

Betting Odds

  • Spread: Kentucky +2.5 (-110), Arkansas -2.5 (-110)
  • Total: OVER 147.5 (-110), UNDER 147.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Kentucky +120, Arkansas -145

Odds are via BetMGM.

Top Offenses Face Top Defenses in Fayetteville

With the scoring depth that both Kentucky and Arkansas possess, it is no surprise that both teams are among the nation’s highest-scoring teams.

Entering today’s action, Kentucky is averaging 80.6 points per game. That ranks first in the SEC and ninth in the country. Arkansas, meanwhile, is fourth in the SEC and tied for 38th in the country in scoring at 77.5 PPG.

Each team has four players averaging double digits in points and six players averaging at least eight points per game.

Arkansas does their damage by playing fast and asserting control over their opponents, as they rank 28th in the country in adjusted tempo.

The Razorbacks also get to the free-throw line often, and most importantly, they make most of their foul shots. They are seventh in free-throw attempts per game (22.8) and fourth in free throws made per game (17.0), which comes out to a pretty robust 74.6 percent from the stripe. That is only tied for 75th nationwide, but it ranks second in the SEC.

As for Kentucky, the Wildcats are third in the country in offensive efficiency and tied for 13th in field-goal percentage, making 48.6 percent of their shots from the field.

It helps to have Wooden Award favorite Oscar Tshiebwe, of course. Tshiebwe is shooting almost 60 percent from the field, and his presence is why Kentucky is second in the country in offensive rebounding percentage.

Oscar Tshiebwe Kentucky
Kentucky big man Oscar Tshiebwe leads the nation in rebounding, averaging 15.3 boards per game.

But each of the Wildcats’ top four scorers is shooting at least 44.2 percent from the field, whereas Arkansas is shooting 44.1 percent from the field as a team.

Yet for as well as each team can score, will the bigger challenge for both teams be to do just that?

Defensive Efficiency Rankings for Kentucky and Arkansas

  • Kentucky: 20th
  • Arkansas: 14th

Rankings are via KenPom.

Arkansas opened SEC play by allowing 81, 75, and 86 points in losses to Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Texas A&M. That was part of a stretch in which they allowed 80+ points four times in six games.

But in 13 games since, the most points the Hogs have allowed is 76, in an overtime win over Auburn. Overall, they have allowed an average of 62.1 PPG over those 13 games. In that stretch, they have surrendered 70+ points only four times.

On the other side, Kentucky has been a little more generous. But they put in two tremendous defensive efforts on the road to beat Kansas and Alabama over the last month. In an 18-point win at Allen Fieldhouse, they held the Jayhawks to a season-low 62 points. Then in their win in Tuscaloosa, they held Alabama to a season-low 55 points.

Alabama is 12th in the nation in scoring (80.2 PPG), while Kansas is 14th (80.0 PPG). So, Kentucky knows how to handle high-scoring teams and hostile arenas. But will they be up to the task in this matchup?

Kentucky vs. Arkansas Basketball Prediction & Picks

Arkansas 85, Kentucky 81 (Arkansas -2.5 and OVER 147.5)

While both teams certainly can keep it tight defensively, this one will be about who can outscore the other.

Kentucky has two extremely impressive road wins this season, which can’t be overlooked. But the road is also where they have been the most vulnerable against quality opposition.

The Wildcats do get somewhat of a pass for their loss against Auburn, as they were without Tyty Washington Jr. for much of that game but still only lost by nine. But all three of their SEC losses have come on the road (LSU, Auburn, and Tennessee), and they lost at Notre Dame in non-conference play.

On that note, they may be without Washington (ankle) and backcourt mate Sahvir Wheeler (wrist) against Arkansas. Both have missed the past two games, a 90-81 win over Alabama and a 71-66 win over LSU.

Those two wins over two NCAA Tournament-bound teams show that they can win without Washington (12.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.1 APG) and Wheeler (9.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 7.1 APG). That said, Bud Walton Arena against a high-flying Arkansas team is not a tough scenario with a full roster, much less shorthanded.

Kentucky still scored 90 against Alabama without Washington and Wheeler, and they can score against Arkansas without them. However, JD Notae (18.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.4 APG) Arkansas will be too much in the end at their fortress in Fayetteville and win for the 13th time in 14 games.

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