Eric Musselman and his Arkansas Razorback squad look to make the Elite Eight for the third straight year. Standing in the way are Dan Hurley and the UConn Huskies out of the Big East. It is time to continue our March Madness odds series with an Arkansas-UConn prediction and pick.
Arkansas comes in off an upset win over the number one seed in the West Region, Kansas. Arkansas out-rebounded the Jayhawks and came back from a double-digit second-half deficit to pull off the win. In the process, Junior guard Davonte Davis scored 25 points to help give the Razorbacks the win.
UConn is showing they have all the ingredients to make a deep run in this tournament. They were one of eight teams going into the tournament with a top 25 adjusted offensive rating and top 50 adjusted defensive ratings per KenPom. UConn has been flexing on defense, holding Iona and Saint Mary’s below 65 points, which was the 40th-ranked season-average team. They have not faced much adversity at the end of either game either, winning both by over 15 points.
Here are the Arkansas-UConn March Madness odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
March Madness Odds: Arkansas-UConn Odds
Arkansas: +4.5 (-115)
UConn: -4.5 (-105)
Over: 139.5 (-112)
Under: 139.5 (-108)
How To Watch Arkansas vs. UConn
Stream: March Madness App
Time: 7:15 PM ET/ 4:15 PM PT
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Why Arkansas Could Cover The Spread
Arkansas was 15th in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom this season. While they have shown a solid defense all year long, they did not flex that defensive muscle against Kansas. Kansas shot 48% from the floor, including 38.5% from the three-point arc. UConn is third in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom, which is much higher than Kansas. UConn had a higher effective field goal percentage this year and had a better three-point percentage. Arkansas will have to sure up that area of the game to make this a close contest.
What the Razorbacks did do well was rebound. The Razorbacks had 14 offensive rebounds on the way to 36 total, and out-rebounding Kansas by seven. This was a little bit of a surprise, as Arkansas was 169th in the nation in offensive rebounding this year. What may have benefited was KJ Adams being out for Kansas for almost a quarter of the game with foul trouble.
Arkansas played much better than normal in some areas, and much worse than normal in others, but the biggest shock may be been Nick Smith Jr. He averaged 12.6 points per game on the season but was held to just four shots against Kansas. He missed all four of them and scored zero points in the game. The only other two times that happened this year were in games he played five or fewer minutes. He should bounce back in the contest against UConn.
Why UConn Could Cover The Spread
Arkansas needed an amazing rebounding performance to knock off Kansas, but UConn is third in the nation in Rebound margin, with over 9 more rebounds per game than their opposition. Their average of 38.91 rebounds per game also ranks them 19th in the NCAA. While Kansas was hurt by losing one guy to foul trouble, UConn has three guys who average over five rebounds per game and can control the glass.
One of the biggest names in that group is Donovan Clingan. Arkansas likes to score inside, as they struggle more from mid-range and deep. Clingan commands the paint and averaged 1.8 blocks per game on the season. The 7’2” Freshman has continued to improve as well, with five blocks in the two tournament games so far. Getting around the big man may be tough for the Arkansas offense.
UConn takes care of the ball well and moves it around well. This is shown by their 36th ranked assist to turnover ratio this season. Two different players average over four assists per game, with three players averaging over ten points per game. Alex Karajan sits just outside the ten-point-per-game marker with 9.4 points per outing. This offense is versatile, cuts well, and controls a game. This may be why KenPom ranks them third in adjusted offensive efficiency.
Final Arkansas-UConn Prediction & Pick
Arkansas got some luck and good rebounding to make the comeback win against Kansas. The rebounding will not be there in this match though. UConn limits second-chance points and often controls the glass. While the Arkansas defense is solid, there are too many options from UConn to stop them all. Three-straight elite eight appearances will not be happening for the Razorbacks.
Final Arkansas-UConn Prediction & Pick: UConn -4.5 (-105)