Kentucky South Carolina Basketball
Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe grabs a rebound against South Carolina forward Ta'Quan Woodley, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. Kentucky won 86-76. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

NCAAB BEST BETS FEBRUARY 26

Patrick Werkmeister

Now that the college basketball season is rapidly approaching March Madness, these Saturday matchups are sure to be a sneak peek of what’s to come. In this jam-packed weekend slate, schools from across all conferences will see some action on this day-long marathon of games. However, the real action lies in the Top 25 programs who are scheduled to play this evening. As these teams fight it out in their respective conference, it will be interesting to see if the top dogs are able to live up to their reputations and successfully close out this season. Nevertheless, here is what I’m going with for these college hoops games.

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Kentucky (+3) @ Arkansas
The opening spread for this contest had Kentucky as two and a half-point road favorites, and they are currently favored by three points. Although the Wildcats are an average 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games played, Kentucky has an impressive record of 8-1 SU in their last nine matches. Led by star big man Oscar Tshiebwe, among a deep overall roster, coach John Calipari and Kentucky have been out for blood this year after missing out on last year’s NCAA tournament. Similarly, Arkansas has been slaying the competition with a 22-6 overall record and are looking to at least repeat their Elite Eight run from last year’s tournament. However, with a weak three-point shooting percentage of just 31% from downtown, Arkansas will assuredly find themselves in an uphill battle trying to keep up with the high-scoring Wildcats. Last game out, Arkansas defeated the Florida Gators in Gainesville by a margin of eight points whereas Kentucky secured a home W against the top 25 ranked LSU Tigers. Tshiebwe scored 17 points while grabbing a monstrous 16 rebounds in the victory. Although the Razorbacks have proved to be one of the top dogs in the SEC, Auburn and Kentucky are marginally better than any other program in the conference. With more signature wins over quality opponents, Kentucky is the more battle-tested squad so they should find a way to secure a victory. Take the Wildcats plus the points to handle Arkansas. 

Wisconsin (+2.5) @ Rutgers
The opening line for this contest had Wisconsin as one point road dogs but they are currently two and a half-point underdogs. While Wisconsin is a shoddy 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games played, Rutgers are an impressive 6-1 ATS in their past 7 matches. Led by star guard Johnny Davis, Wisconsin has had a stellar year with their 22-5 record. Conversely, the Scarlet Knights are a bubble team for the NCAA tournament with a 16-11 record, however, they are a formidable Big 10 opponent with solid wins over teams like Purdue, Illinois, and Ohio State. With Wisconsin’s conference title hopes still alive, this is a must win. Last game out, the Badgers narrowly defeated Minnesota 68-67 whereas Rutgers lost to the Michigan Wolverines 71-62. Wisconsin Badger Jonny Davis scored just 12 points but they didn’t need him to take over in order to get the victory. However, Rutgers has been upsetting teams all year, so the Badgers will certainly not take this opponent lightly. Although Wisconsin was defeated in their first meeting with the Knights, they have been playing their best basketball and I like them to stay hot. Take the Badgers plus the points to take care of Rutgers.

Kansas @ Baylor (-3)
The opening point-spread margin for this matchup had Baylor as three and a half-point home favorites and they are currently favored by three points. While Kansas is an impressive 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games played, the Bears have an excellent record of 18-2 SU in their last 20 games at home. Led by an array of NBA worthy talent, Baylor has followed up their national championship season with a current record of 23-5. According to Kenpom data, they are a top 10 offense and defense in the country for adjusted efficiency. Although the Jayhawks have a top 5 offense according to their adjusted efficiency, their defense won’t be able to shut down Baylor where they barely crack the top 40. Last game out, Baylor got the overtime victory against Oklahoma State, whereas Kansas dominated Kansas State. Although the Jayhawks have proved they deserve to be in the conversation of winning this year’s national championship, with how deep their bench is, Baylor is much more prepared for their battle against Kansas this time around. Additionally, after struggling with Oklahoma State, Baylor will be sure to bounce back strong in front of their home crowd. The Bears carry the momentum necessary to get this win and will certainly want revenge after their loss to Kansas earlier this year. Take Baylor to take care of their in-conference rival.

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