We have an exciting Tuesday night as we feature some of the top teams in the nation who can make it far into March. One of those teams you can call a current favorite, but they may run into some trouble tonight and possibly lose their first game in a long time.
No. 1 Auburn vs. Arkansas (Tip 7 p.m. ET)
The interesting thing about this season is we’ve seen that anything can happen. For example, No. 1 Auburn, riding a 17-game winning streak, matched up against 6-16 Georgia, and the Dawgs held a 72-70 lead in the last minute till K.D. Johnson and Wendell Green scored to sneak away with the win. The Tigers have recently struggled from beyond the arc as they’re 11-of-47 in their last two games (23.4%) from three. This game against the Razorbacks is an excellent opportunity to get back on track as they’re allowing opponents to shoot 34% from three (210th).
Arkansas has to be chomping at the bit to get to Auburn as the Tigers limp into this game. Arkansas has an eight-game winning streak, including against at the time No. 12 LSU and Miss State. The defense has been playing well as they’re allowing an SEC-best 90.2 points per 100 possessions. Senior guard JD Notae is making his case for first-team all-SEC as he’s tied for an SEC-best 18.7 points per game.
A loss for Auburn may not be a bad thing. You could see them pressing in that game against Georgia, and they were not finding the best scoring opportunities. Their domination on the boards was the difference and allowed them to come away with the win. That won’t be the case as the Razorbacks have Jaylin Williams, who will hold down Walker Kessler, while you have the playmaker Notae lead in the backcourt.
No. 18 Marquette vs. No. 24 UConn (Tip 6:30 p.m. ET)
Marquette has begun to make a charge as they’re now in their second week in the top 25 and moved from 24 to 19. They’ve put the Big East on notice as they have two wins against Villanova and Seton Hall, along with victories over Providence and Xavier. The Golden Eagles will come out firing as they love to shoot from behind the arc, and they’re hitting at 35.6%. UConn guards R.J Cole and Tyrese Martin have struggled to defend the perimeter this year and will have a tough night ahead.
The Huskies have hit skids as they went from a five-game winning streak to back-to-back losses. Those wins were against the bottom-of-the-barrel Big East teams, while these last two losses were against Creighton and Villanova. Connecticut will have the size advantage, specifically on boards, as Marquette does not have anyone who will be able to stop Adama Sonogo. But UConn won’t be able to go shot-for-shot with Marquette from the outside, as they have to rely on out-rebounding and getting second-chance points.
I understand why Marquette is the underdog, but three possessions as the higher-ranked team is a little much. Marquette needs to set the pace of play and find their shots, which they’ve done very well recently. They won’t physically match up with UConn, and that will put the Huskies over the edge, but this game will come down to the final possession.
No. 5 Kentucky vs. South Carolina (Tip 7 p.m.)
Kentucky is looking like a force as three of their last four wins have come by double-digits. The Wildcats are averaging an SEC-best 81.2 points, and all five of their starters are averaging double-digits. Of course, we can’t talk about Kentucky without mentioning forward Oscar Tshiebwe, who is a John Wooden award candidate, as he’s averaging 15 points and 15 rebounds.
South Carolina is not going to be able to offensively compete with Kentucky as they are 227th in adjusted offense, according to KenPom. What they can do is hold them down defensively, which they’ve done very well as they hold opponents to 69.2 points per game and are third in the SEC in block shots per game (5.2). They have the size down low with forwards Wildens Leveque and Keyshawn Bryant to compete with Tshiebwe, and we could possibly see more minutes from center Josh Gray if they want to go big. These guys could give the Kentucky forward a tough night on the boards.
The Gamecocks are 2-6 against the spread as an underdog against the SEC this season with none of those wins at home. South Carolina has a tough defense, but they don’t have the offensive talent to keep up with Kentucky.
Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our Sports Betting Strategy and Advice page is for you. You can get started with our 101 section — including 10 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners — or head to more advanced strategy — like Key Numbers When Betting Against the Spread — to learn more.