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March Madness has been very entertaining thus far, and the action is only becoming more competitive as we move forward in the tournament. The UConn Huskies will battle the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Sweet 16. This Big East vs. SEC matchup looks like one of the best in the round, as both teams have a chance to end their season hoisting the title. However, only one can keep dancing into the Elite 8.
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The Arkansas Razorbacks had an amazing win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament over Kansas. The Razorbacks clawed their way back into the game and took over down the stretch. Arkansas entered the half down eight, but they outscored Kansas 45-36 in the second half to win, 72-71.
Kansas was up 12 five minutes into the second half and had a 91% chance to win according to ESPN. Yet, the Razorbacks responded to adversity behind Davonte Davis. Davis scored 25 points and led his team to an emotional win.
Arkansas is a solid team, but they do have flaws. The main issue for the Razorbacks this season has been their inability to hit three-pointers. This disability has shown against high-powered teams in the SEC. To beat UConn, Arkansas must be efficient from beyond the arch.
They also have struggled on the glass at times this season. Second-chance opportunities are massive at this point in the season. They found a way to get these against Kansas and must continue this aggression throughout the remainder of March Madness.
Even though Davis stole the show in the second round, he typically isn’t the man for Arkansas. Ricky Council is the player to watch for Arkansas. He was horrendous from the field against Kansas but has been the star this season, averaging 16 points per game.
The guard is a do-all player that is physical on the glass. The best part about Council’s game is his ability to follow his shot. He is relentless after a shooting attempt, which leads to more rebounding chances for his team. The other contributor to note is Nick Smith Jr., a 6’5” freshman guard.
Smith hasn’t been overly efficient this year but has made some big shots on the season. He hasn’t been fantastic through the first two rounds, which is to be expected as a freshman. Yet, Arkansas needs him to contribute to beat UConn.
Arkansas received an at-large bid out of the SEC after finishing 22-13 in the conference. They lost to Texas A&M in the SEC quarterfinal but responded in the NCAA Tournament. The Razorbacks bested #9 Illinois in the first round before upsetting #1 Kansas to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16.
UConn looks like one of the strongest teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament following their dominant win over Saint Mary’s. UConn is tremendous at wearing teams down in the second half, and we’ve seen this through the first two games of the tournament. Saint Mary’s couldn’t compete with the Huskies in any way whatsoever in the second half of round two, and they were a five seed.
UConn is now back in the Sweet 16, and their record in this portion of the tournament is astonishing. In their past five trips to the Sweet 16, they have advanced to five Elite 8s, four Final Fours, and won three National Championships. Connecticut is the basketball capital of the world, and this UConn team has the ability to bring a title back to Storrs.
UConn is one of the most physical teams in the country. They rank seventh in offensive rebounds per game at 12.1 and 13th in overall rebounds with 37 per game. These two statistics are key to winning in March Madness. The team that plays the cleanest and most physical game typically wins, and UConn has done this through the first two rounds.
UConn has a lot of tremendous role players, but the team centers around Adama Sanogo. Sanogo is a 6’9” forward that can do everything on the floor. He has been the MVP of the NCAA Tournament so far with a combined 52 points and 21 rebounds through two games.
The Huskies will go as far as Sanogo takes them in the NCAA Tournament. The other centerpiece for UConn is Jordan Hawkins, who facilitates the game from the perimeter. Hawkins shot 66.7% from the field against Saint Mary’s, which drew attention. This opened up Sanogo in the paint to do damage.
UConn is getting hot at the right time. After a disappointing Big East Tournament appearance, the Huskies received an at-large bid to be a four-seed. They opened March Madness with a dominant win over #13 Iona. They followed this with a 15-point victory over #5 Saint Mary’s which put the country on notice.
UConn is the better team heading into this contest, and they’ve been battle-tested in the Big East Conference. The SEC is competitive, but UConn has played a tougher schedule and they’re the better team. The Razorbacks cannot compete with the Huskies in the paint or on the perimeter.
The team that makes the most threes puts itself in the best spot to win. Arkansas doesn’t live by the deep shots like the Huskies. Dan Hurley encourages his team to shoot from beyond the arch, and if they make them, UConn will advance to the Elite 8. Look for Sanogo to take over the game inside and the Huskies to shine in the second half. Lay the points with the Huskies.
PICK: UConn -3.5
UConn ATS Record: 23-12
Arkansas ATS Record: 17-16-1
Over 139.5 (-110)
Under 139.5 (-110)
Tanner Kern has been working in the betting industry since 2020. He currently is a social media content creator at DraftKings and contributes to multiple sites in addition to WSN, including Forbes and VSiN. He is also the cohost of the podcast Ride the Line at WSN.More info on Tanner Kern
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