March 5th 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)
Take South Carolina at +2 spread (buy half a point) against Arkansas risking 3% of bankroll.
The Arkansas Razorbacks had been one of the hottest teams in the nation and were expected to give the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats a scare; that didn't turn out to be the case at all however as they fell 84-67! That loss snapped an impressive 7 game winning streak by the Hogs and actually may have just closed the door on their regular season. As it stands right now, Arkansas is safely in the NCAA tournament come Selection Sunday, and so their main focus will be on preparing for the upcoming postseason and staying healthy over the next week. The Razorbacks also have a much more important game on deck for Saturday when they play host to their closest rivals in the conference, the LSU Tigers. We wouldn't be surprised to see Arkansas looking ahead to that meeting and overlooking an underrated South Carolina side that they've already beaten.
South Carolina put together a very respectable nonconference resume to start the season but it didn't translate into success in conference play. They are now just 14-14 overall, 5-11 in the SEC and this team has to be frustrated given the way things have gone over the past couple of months. What we find extremely interesting however is that the #18 ranked Razorbacks with a 23-6 overall are installed as only marginal favorite against a mediocre .500 team? Vegas has made this line extremely short and enticing and the public has eagerly been taking the bait! Nearly all of the action has landed on the side of Arkansas and we believe this has the makeup of a public burial tonight.
The Gamecocks recently broke a 2 game losing streak in their last outing when they beat Mississippi State 81-68. South Carolina has the ability to compete with the upper teams in the SEC on its home court. Where South Carolina has struggled most this season has been on the road, not in Columbia. They struggled in the first meeting against Mike Anderson's pressure oriented defense when these two met a month ago. In that game the Gamecocks has 20 total turnovers which paved the path for an ugly loss. They will likely be much better prepared for this contest as that has been an element of their game that they have severely improved in recent weeks. The Gamecocks were averaging 14.4 turnovers per game earlier this season but have limited that to less than 10 over the last seven games!
The South Carolina offense is inconsistent at times but Tyrone Johnson got out of his shooting slump dropping 28 points last Saturday and may be the spark for them again tonight. Marcus Stroman is the team’s leading assist man and was questionable earlier but has been upgraded to 'probable' and should feature in tonight's contest. His creativity with the ball and his ability to distribute to the open man could prove pivotal as Johnson and Duane Notice do the bulk of scoring. The Razorbacks have had their fair share of struggles on the road and especially when playing in Columbia. They've lost their previous 6 visits and were last victorious here in 2001!
South Carolina has played solid basketball on their home court where they are 10-5 and puts forth competitive efforts for their fans. They are a solid defensive team and have limited opponents to an average of just 60 points on this court. At 14-14, we don't believe Frank Martin's squad will want do drop to a sub .500 record this late in the season. They will be motivated to knock off one of the top teams and play spoiler all while getting sweet revenge for their earlier loss. They should have the edge on the boards as well as on the overall defensive side which could cause the Hogs problems. Arkansas may be in a bit of a flat spot tonight after that deflating loss to Kentucky and before hosting a critical game against rivals LSU in less than 48 hours! This game is sandwitched in between for them and it primes Arkansas for an upset. We expect this to be a closer game than most anticipate and believe South Carolina can surprise them. The two points are valuable and should be taken because they will serve as insurance in case they fall short. The Razorbacks are nowhere near as dominant on the road (6-5) and should struggle once again tonight.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Arkansas is just 1-6 as a road favorite of up to 3 points over the last 3 seasons!
- Arkansas is 0-4 in road games when total is 140 to 144.5 points over that same span.
- South Carolina is 12-3 ATS vs. teams scoring 77+ points per game over the last 3 seasons!
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