Missouri vs. Arkansas Odds
The Arkansas Razorbacks host the Missouri Tigers on Wednesday evening in an SEC matchup early in the conference schedule.
Can Missouri stay hot and win its fourth straight contest against a potential tournament team? Or will Arkansas impose its will back on its home floor after a tough loss to LSU?
Following a loss to Kansas that made many think this Missouri team may not be the real deal, the Tigers have responded with three of the most impressive wins Mizzou has had in recent memory.
A buzzer beating win against UCF preceded Mizzou’s two most recent victories over Illinois and Kentucky that were never in doubt. Coaching and the roster overhaul Dennis Gates has performed have a lot to do with the turnaround. But potentially the most credit should go to a Missouri mainstay: Kobe Brown.
In an era where so many players are hitting the portal at the first sign of adversity, Brown is a welcome change. He has been through tough times at Missouri, enduring down years and rosters that simply didn’t help to complement his talents.
This year, teammates like D’Moi Hodge, Nick Honor and DeAndre Gholston have led a backcourt that helps take defensive attention away from Brown. He has turned those additional opportunities into almost 16 points and 3 assists per game.
The defensive weaknesses of Missouri are much more likely to be tested against Arkansas than in recent games. No, that isn’t a slight to the talent on the rosters of the Illini or Kentucky. Missouri was simply better in those games and played with confidence, leading throughout.
The confidence that gave them a lead in those games allowed Missouri to play much more freely and on their terms. A hostile environment in Fayetteville, Ark., will make the prospect of holding a lead throughout highly unlikely.
KenPom rates Missouri’s scoring ability in the top 5 in the country. The Tigers play with incredible pace, which will be just fine with Arkansas. At 149th in defensive efficiency ranking, the Tigers defense still leaves a lot to be desired. Expect the Razorbacks to take advantage.
In a game that would have warranted his full energy and attention, it’s a shame Trevon Brazile will be watching this one from his chair. Brazile is a talented forward who made the move southwest from Columbia to Fayetteville to join Eric Musselman’s team.
Although Brazile did not have a relationship with Mizzou’s new head coach, he would have figured to play a key role in the Arkansas effort to defeat his former team. Brazile was averaging almost 12 points per game in the early part of the season off the bench, and figures to have more chances to face his former Missouri Tigers in future years once fully healthy.
The brightest spot on Musselman’s squad early has been Wichita transfer Ricky Council. The 6-foot-6 wing has averaged almost 18 points per game while shooting 49% from the field. Maybe most importantly, his defensive intensity has blossomed in the Arkansas system. His ability to create turnovers, which often results in transition offense, has been key in early wins over San Diego State and Oklahoma.
Musselman’s recruiting ability has been on full display in his tenure at Arkansas as well. This year, his prize freshmen Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh have been trusted with key roles in the Razorbacks’ rotation. Both notably struggled in their first collegiate road tests in Baton Rouge a week ago.
Freshmen often struggle in such situations. Now, back home with a full week of practice, refocus and anticipation, Black and Walsh have a chance to get back on the Muss Bus.
Missouri vs. Arkansas Betting Pick
The home crowd’s energy and sense of urgency should get the Razorbacks’ full attention from the tip. Missouri is much more disciplined and improved than recent versions of the Tigers have been. They are fully capable of hanging tough and keeping this margin within single digits in the end.
Instead of laying the full 8.5, I would rather lay the 4.5 in the first half and hope Arkansas comes out with full focus.
Pick: Arkansas 1st Half -4.5
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