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Kentucky-Arkansas Huge NCAA Tournament Bubble Game in Weak SEC

As things stand now, the University of Arkansas isn’t going to the NCAA Tournament barring a shocking run to the SEC Tournament title. However, the Hogs could have a shot at a bid if they can win their final three regular-season games starting Saturday at home against Kentucky. The game will have live play-by-play betting at Bovada.

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Arkansas (17-11, 8-7 SEC) has picked a bad time to have a two-game losing streak. Last Saturday’s loss at then-No. 5 Florida was understandable, but Wednesday’s 65-60 loss at LSU as a one-point favorite was a crusher for the Razorbacks. Arkansas will have to hope the NCAA Tournament selection committee looks past their dreadful 1-10 record on the road.

The Razorbacks currently have an RPI of 81, which is not good. On the positive side, they have three wins over top-50 teams: Oklahoma, Florida (when the Gators were No. 2 in the nation) and Missouri. The Hogs also have a win over another SEC bubble team, surging Tennessee. Negatively, Arkansas has nine wins over teams at 150-plus in the RPI and a very bad loss to South Carolina.

Also working against the Razorbacks is the weakness of the SEC as a whole, with only Florida currently ranked. Outside of the Gators, the only teams projected to get a bid as of today are Kentucky, Mississippi and Missouri. Certainly those three aren’t locks yet. Arkansas is also likely behind Alabama, Tennessee and LSU in the SEC pecking order for an at-large bid.

Saturday’s matchup with Kentucky (20-8, 11-4) is the only meeting between the schools in the regular season. The Wildcats were destroyed at Tennessee in their first game without star freshman Nerlens Noel. They have rebounded with wins over Vanderbilt, Missouri and Mississippi State. All those were in Lexington and UK was a favorite in all three. The Cats are just 4-5 on the road (3-6 ATS) and conceivably could lose out as they follow the Arkansas game by visiting Georgia and hosting Florida. ESPN’s Bracketology lists UK as a No. 12 seed and among the “last four in.” Kentucky is 66/1 at Bovada to repeat as the national champion.

Saturday's Live Bets

Also available for Live Betting Saturday is No. 5 Miami, Fl. at No. 3 Duke, a game that can wrap up the Hurricanes’ first-ever ACC regular-season title and the top seed in the conference tournament. UM had looked very vulnerable of late in close wins at Florida State, at Clemson and home against Virginia, all games the Canes could have lost. Playing with fire caught up with Miami last Saturday in an 80-65 loss at Wake Forest, one of the ACC’s worst teams. That ended UM’s 14-game winning streak and wrecked their chances of being the first team since Duke in 1998-99 to finish unbeaten in ACC play.

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The Hurricanes (23-4, 14-1) bounced back strong with a 76-58 home win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday. Now UM can accomplish something incredibly rare: a season sweep over both North Carolina (already done) and Duke. The Canes crushed the then-No. 1 Blue Devils, who were 2.5-point favorites, 90-63 in Coral Gables on January 23. It was the sixth-worst loss for Duke under Coach Mike Krzyzewski and its worst since 1984. It also was Miami’s first-ever win against a top-ranked team.

Miami entered this season a combined 5-33 all-time against Duke and UNC. Should the Hurricanes pull the upset Saturday, they would become the first team since Georgia Tech in 1995-96 to win on the road in the same year against all the three "Research Triangle" teams – Duke, UNC and NC State.

A win also would put UM in great position for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament barring losses in their final two regular-season games, both at home (where Miami is unbeaten), or an early exit in the ACC Tournament. Duke and Miami are both 17/2 at the book to win the national title, behind only Indiana (19/4) and Florida (13/2). Losses by the Hoosiers and Gators this week haven’t changed their status as the two favorites, although their odds shifted a bit longer.

Also on Saturday, the book offers Live Betting on West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas and No. 11 Arizona at UCLA. KU needs a win to keep pace with Kansas State atop the Big 12 as the Jayhawks look for their ninth-straight regular-season conference title. KSU faces a tough test Saturday at Baylor, so Kansas could be in the driver’s seat with a win.

Kansas coach Bill Self earned his 500th career win in Monday’s 108-96 overtime victory at Iowa State, a game in which many believe the Cyclones were robbed because of two late calls by the officials that went Kansas’ way. After a review by the league, the Big 12 did announce that two officials made errors and they could lose future assignments as punishment. A win would have cemented an NCAA bid for ISU, but the Cyclones remain on the bubble.

Meanwhile, the Arizona-UCLA winner still has a shot at the Pac-12’s regular-season title but would need a bit of help from Oregon. The Bruins may have to play again without third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder Travis Wear. The 6-foot-10 junior has missed two-straight games with a sprained foot, but the Bruins won both. UCLA upset then-No. 6 Arizona 84-73 in Tucson on January 24 behind 23 points from freshman star Shabazz Muhammad. It was UCLA’s first road win at a top-10 team since the 2001-02 season.

Arizona may have been caught looking ahead to Saturday’s game as they were upset 89-78 at USC on Wednesday as a 7.5-point favorite. UA hasn’t been good on its annual Los Angeles road swing in recent years, dropping to 3-8 in their past 11 including Wednesday’s loss.

Sunday's Live Bets

The book offers one Live NCAA Betting game Sunday: NC State at Georgia Tech. The Wolfpack, the preseason ACC favorites, have done enough so far to warrant an NCAA bid at 20-8 overall and 9-6 in the conference, but they don’t want to play with fire by losing to the struggling Yellow Jackets. NC State has lost five of its past six ACC road games but did beat Tech 83-70 in Raleigh on January 9. The Wolfpack are 40/1 at the book to win the national title.

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