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Saturday’s college hoops slate is absolutely loaded featuring the SEC/Big XII Challenge, two of which I’ll handicap below. Aside from the Arkansas-Baylor and Kansas-Kentucky games, I’ll also take a shot in the Ohio State-Indiana Big Ten battle.
Arkansas Razorbacks (14-6) at No. 17 Baylor Bears (15-5), 4 p.m. ET.
Baylor hosts Arkansas at the Ferrell Center Saturday in the 2023 SEC/Big XII Challenge. The Bears extended their winning streak to five games — 4-0-1 against the spread (ATS) — with a 75-69 home win over Kansas Monday.
Arkansas has won back-to-back games but lost its four previous games from January 7-18, three of which were on the road. The Razorbacks are 0-4 straight up (SU) and ATS in away games this season.
They have a -8.0 SU margin and -8.9 ATS margin in those games. One of Arkansas’s four road opponents (Auburn) is inside the top 55 teams in Ken Pom’s adjusted efficiency margin. All five of Baylor’s losses were vs. top-25 teams in Ken Pom’s net efficiency.
Arkansas is a young team still learning how to win. The Razorbacks returned just 16.6% of their minutes played and 13.0% of their points scored from last year’s team, according to Sports Reference. While the Bears have four upperclassmen in their starting 5.
Furthermore, this is only Arkansas’s 5th true road game this season and Baylor’s home gym should be jumping for this out-of-conference showdown.
Baylor is good in the areas that help teams cover big numbers. The Bears are 32nd in 3-point-attempt rate, 21st in offensive FT/FGA rate, and 8th in offensive rebounding rate, per Ken Pom.
The bottom line is Arkansas’s offense cannot keep up with Baylor in Waco, Texas.
College Hoops Best Bet #1: Baylor -6.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -7
Ohio State Buckeyes (11-9) at Indiana Hoosiers (14-6), 8 p.m. ET
This is the 1st Ohio State-Indiana meeting this season. The home team won and covered both last year. Hoosiers big Trayce Jackson-Davis tore the Buckeyes up last year at home, scoring 27 points on 64.7% shooting with 12 rebounds.
Both teams fell out of the top-25 three weeks ago. But, Indiana has turned the corner and Ohio State is still struggling.
After losing three straight from January 5-11, the Hoosiers enter on a 4-game winning streak (3-1 ATS). Whereas the Buckeyes 1-6 SU and ATS over their last seven games.
Jackson-Davis has been balling in Indiana’s current 4-game winning streak. Over that span, he’s averaging 27.3 points per game on 63.4% shooting with 14.3 rebounds and 4.8 blocks.
The tallest player in Ohio State’s starting frontcourt is 6-foot-8 so Jackson-Davis should have a big game in this meeting as well. Plus Indiana has more continuity and experience.
Ohio State returned just 16.2% of the minutes played and 14.1% of the scoring from last year’s squad. Indiana returned 77.2% of the minutes and 83.6% of the scoring.
Ken Pom ranks the Buckeyes with the 350th best minutes continuity out of 363 charted basketball programs and the Hoosiers 38th. Ohio State is 337th in assist-to-field-goal-made rate (A/FGM) and Indiana is 71st in A/FGM.
Finally, the Buckeyes are 1-4 SU and ATS on the road vs. Big Ten teams this season. The Hoosiers are 3-1 SU (+11.5 SU margin) and ATS (+4.5 spread differential) at home in conference games.
College Hoops Best Bet #2: Indiana -5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook
No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks (16-4) at Kentucky Wildcats (14-6), 8 p.m. ET
Gimme an unranked Kentucky team vs. the reigning national champion Kansas who are a public ‘dog. According to VSIN, nearly 70% of the action is on the Jayhawks, which makes sense.
Typically, public bettors gravitate towards the ranked team when facing an unranked teams. People will think, “Wow, No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks is getting points against an unranked Kentucky.”
But, these teams are trending in the opposite direction entering Saturday. The Jayhawks have lost three straight and are 0-5 ATS in their last five games. While the Wildcats have won four in a row (4-0 ATS).
Two of those Kentucky wins were double-digit blowout. Another was on the road vs. No. 4 Tennessee. The other victim was a tough Texas A&M team who’s only loss in the past nine games was against the Wildcats.
Also, Kentucky waxed Kansas 80-62 this same time last year and that was obviously a better Jayhawks team. KU lost its top-three scorers from last year’s national championship winning team.
Both teams play through their bigs: Kentucky C Oscar Tshiebwe leads his team in usage rate as does Kansas C Jalen Wilson has the highest usage, per Ken Pom.
However, Tshiebwe has a better offensive rating (124.7-108.9), offensive rebounding rate (19.6-5.7%), defensive rebounding rate (30.2-21.4%) and block rate (3.4-1.9%).
Kentucky has a massive edge on the glass. UK leads the country in offensive rebounding rate and KU are 198th in defensive rebounding.
This leads to the Wildcats winning the battle of possessions. Kentucky has a +4.8 field-goal-attempt (FGA) margin per game and Kansas are just +2.1 in FGA per game.
Lastly, Rupp Arena is one of the toughest places to visit in college basketball. Ken Pom gives Kentucky the 9th-biggest home-court advantage in college basketball at +4.2.
College Hoops Best Bet #3: Kentucky -2.5 (-110) at DraftKings, up to -3
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