The 4th seed, UConn Huskies (27-8, 13-7 Big East) are no strangers to the NCAA Tournament. UConn has 4 National Titles, been to 5 Final Fours, and 36 tournament appearances. The Huskies suffered losses in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2020 and 2021. UConn has back-to-back 20-win seasons under Head Coach Dan Hurley, and The Huskies survived against Iona and Saint Mary’s to reach the Sweet 16. The 8th seed, Arkansas Razorbacks (22-13, 8-10 SEC) are coming off first and second round wins to Illinois and Kansas. They knocked off a #1 seed, the Kansas Jayhawks. Much like UConn, they have tournament experience. Arkansas has 1 National Title Win, 6 Final Four, and 35 NCAA Tournament appearances. These two teams will play on Thursday at 7:15 EDT, in the Round of 16, located in Las Vegas, Nevada. The matchup will air on CBS. If you are looking for the best betting odds, here is information to know:
Betting Odds, Money Line, Spread, Under/Over
UConn: -4 (-110)
Arkansas: +4 (-110)
Connecticut Huskies (UConn)
Round of 64: UConn vs. Iona: UConn was favored -9, and the Over/Under was 140.5. UConn won the Money Line, Covered the spread, and the OVER hit.
The UConn Huskies dominated the Iona Gaels and came out with the win 87-63. Iona was up by 2 points leading into the half and had bettors worried. UConn had a monstrous second half, outscoring Iona 50-24. Led by Forward Adama Sanogo, the Huskies shot 44 percent from the three-point, and 48.5 percent from the field. In addition, UConn had an 85.7 field goal percentage. UConn outrebounded Iona 45-29 and led in assists. Sanogo had a stellar second half, scoring 28 points in 25 minutes, on 13-17 shooting. Sophomore Guard Jordan Hawkins added 13 points, 4 rebounds, and shot only 27.3 percent from the field. Although UConn did not get adequate bench help, Guard Andre Jackson added in 10 points and a 40 percent three-point shot. UConn had all the momentum in the second half and continued the rest of the game.
Round of 32: UConn vs. Saint Mary’s
The last time the UConn Huskies advanced to the Round of 32 was the 2013-2014, when they won the National Championship. The UConn Huskies beat the Saint Mary’s Gaels 70-55 to advance to the Sweet 16. Again, UConn showed up to play in the second half. Up by one point at the half, UConn pulled away, and outscored Saint Mary’s 39-25 in the second. Keep in mind, the Gaels were an efficient defensive team. However, this did not stop the Huskies from scoring. UConn shot 45.5 percent from the three-point, and 54 percent from the field. In addition, UConn hit 85.7 percent of their free-throws, compared to Saint Mary’s 68.4 percent. Thanks to Adama Sonogo, the Huskies outrebounded the Gaels 31-22, especially defensive boards. UConn had a game high 14 turnovers, however, UConn had 5 blocks and provided great defense. Gaels star Lane Johnson was held to 9 points on 3-15 shooting. Sonogo led the way for the Huskies, with 24 points, 8 rebounds, and a 1 block. Guards, Jordan Hawkins and Tristen Newton added points in double-digits. The only downside? UConn had only 12 points off the bench.
Round of 64: Arkansas vs. Illinois: Arkansas was favored -2, and the Over/Under was 142. The Razorbacks won the Money Line, and the UNDER hit.
The Arkansas Razorbacks impressed against Illinois, beating them 73-63. Up 36-26 by the half, both teams scored 37 points in the second half. Arkansas shot 38.1 percent from the field; however, they shot a low 27.3 percent from the three-point. They made 75.9 percent of their free-throws, compared to Illinois 65.4 percent. In addition, Arkansas outrebounded Illinois 43-34, especially on the offensive end. They had a team high 12 steals, and only 11 turnovers. Junior guard Ricky Council IV led the way with 18 points, on 11-12 points from the free-throw line. He also added one steal and a block. Junior Guard Davonte Davis contributed 16 points on 50 percent free throw shooting. The Razorbacks lost their lead in the second half, not breaking away until the final minutes of the game. Arkansas defense came out strong, early in the game, which made Illinois scramble offensively.
Round of 32: Arkansas vs. Kansas: Kansas was favored -4 and the Over/Under was 143.5. The Razorbacks won the Money Line, covered the spread, and the UNDER hit.
The Arkansas Razorbacks knocked off defending National Champions, Kansas Jayhawks 72-71. It’s important to note Kansas was a #1 seed this year. Not only did Arkansas outrebound Kansas 36-29, but they also shot better at the free-throw line, and had less turnovers. It’s perplexing Arkansas shot significantly worse from the three-point line (20 percent), and only 41.4 percent from the field. Kansas came out strong, leading the Razorbacks 35-27 going into the half. However, Arkansas outscored the Jayhawks 45-36 in the second half. Kansas lost their chance with 1:56 to go in the second half. They missed free-throws, missed open shots, and turned the ball over. Arkansas had key offensive rebounds and put back shots with 51 seconds to go. Eventually, it turned into a free-throw battle, which Arkansas won.
Regular Season Recap
Connecticut Huskies (UConn)
Head Coach Dan Hurley’s UConn Huskies started as one of the nation’s top teams, going 14-0, and 3-0 in their first 14 games. They finished 2nd in the Big East and earned the 4th seed in the NCAA Tournament. Over their win streak, the closest point differential was their win against Villanova, 74-66. During that time, the Huskies had key wins against Alabama, Iowa State, UNC Wilmington, and Villanova. It’s important to note UConn blew out Alabama 82-67 on November 25th, 2023. Over their next 10 games, UConn went on a losing skid, dropping 6 of their next 10 games. After their loss to Xavier on January 25th, 2023, UConn won 9 of their last 11 games.
UConn is extremely efficient on the defensive end. Also, they rank 39th in opponents points per game, with 64.7. They are ranked top 40 in opponent field goal percentage at 40.9 percent. In addition, they rank 30th in opponents three-point percentage, limiting teams to 30.3 percent. With Sonogo, Jackson Jr, and Clingan down below, they rank 3rd in the nation, limiting teams to 29.6 rebounds a game. Offensively, the Huskies ranked 31st in offensive scoring, led by Adama Sonogo. The Huskies are not the best three-point shooting team, ranking 73rd in the league at 36 percent.
This year’s UConn Huskies are the REAL deal. The Huskies are efficient down low, ranking 18th in rebounding with 38.9 rebounds per game. Dan Hurley is a fantastic coach, leading this team to key wins over Marquette, Creighton, and Alabama during the regular season.
UConn has a very powerful, physical defense, along with a very potent offense. Speaking of offense, UConn ranks 7th in the Country in Offensive Efficiency (115.7) (Source: Yahoo). UConn excels with Sanogo in the paint, who is one of the biggest threats in the post. UConn excels off second chance points, thanks to Sanogo. He’s one of the main reasons the Huskies are advancing to the Sweet 16 and is elite in the low post. When Sonogo needs a rest, Donovan Clingan has filled in nicely in his place. The Huskies play high tempo basketball, create turnovers, and take risks.
The Razorbacks entered this year’s NCAA Tournament as the 8th seed. They finished the season 22-13, and 8-10 in the SEC Conference. However, don’t let this record fool you. Eric Musselman has done a fantastic job coaching this team in the tournament. However, this Razorback team was extremely inconsistent in the regular season. Arkansas is in a very competitive SEC and started the season 12-2. During that stretch, the Razorbacks had key wins against San Diego State and Missouri. Their only two losses came against Creighton and LSU. In their last 19 games, the Razorbacks finished 8-11. During that stretch, they had key losses to Auburn, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Baylor, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Texas A&M. Out of those 11 losses, 7 of those teams were ranked.
The Razorbacks ranked 98th in opponent points per game with 67.4. They are efficient around the perimeter, limiting opponents to 30.6 percent from the three-point. In addition, Arkansas is ranked 36th in the Nation in Defensive Rating, at 95.6. However, The Razorbacks struggled offensively during the regular season. They rank 160th in the Nation in Offensive Rating, at 105.4. Also, they only shot 31 percent from the three-point, and average 35.5 rebounds per game. It’s no secret that the Razorbacks have THREE NBA prospects on their roster. Guard Nick Smith Jr. only appeared in 16 game this season, due to Knee Injuries. However, Guard Anthony Black, and Ricky Council IV have been core players for the Razorbacks this year. The Razorbacks have depth, and their bench provided 18 points over their win against Kansas.
Connecticut Huskies (UConn)
Connecticut Huskies (UConn)
It’s no Secret Adama Sonogo has been lights out for UConn this season, and in the tournament. He averaged a career-high in points (17.3), assists (1.2), 3-point percentage (35.4), and field goal percentage (60.5). His 60.5 field goal percentage ranks 23rd in the nation. It’s very hard for teams to shut down Sanogo down low. He’s a glass-cleaner, who snags rebounds, and provides UConn with second chance points. He’s scored 52 points in the first two rounds in the NCAA tournament, adding 21 rebounds and 2 blocks. In addition, Sanogo is averaging 72.7 percentage from the field in the first two rounds. Look for Sanogo to be a continued force inside the paint and the glass.
Sophomore Guard Jordan Hawkins has stepped up when the Huskies need it the most. Hawkins is a fantastic perimeter player and is an efficient shot creator. Hawkins had a huge second half in last game against Saint Mary’s. He added 12 points, and 80 percent 3-point shooting. In the Huskies first round win over Iona, Hawkins added 13 points on 42.9 3-point shooting. This season, he averaged career-highs in points per game (15.9), free-throw percentage (88.3), 3-point percentage (37.8), and field goal percentage at 29.4. Look for Hawkins to be a key factor this next game.
Davonte Davis, Junior guard, has been a solid defensive player for the Razorbacks this season. He’s averaged 11.1 points, 1.4 steals, and 34.6 percent three-point shooting in 33.2 minutes this season. In the NCAA Tournament, Davis added 25 points, 8 rebounds, on 60 % field goal shooting against their win against Kansas. He also put up 16 points, 4 steals, and 6 rebounds against Illinois. It will be interesting to see his matchup against Jordan Hawkins. Look for Davis to be a key player in the UConn game.
Ricky Council IV
With 1:29 left to go against Kansas, Council IV hit a game-tying 2-point shot. In the first round against Illinois, he added 18 points, 10 rebounds, and shot 91.7 percent from the free-throw line. In the second-round win against Kansas, Council IV added 21 points, 1 block, 4 assists, 6 rebounds in 40 minutes. His 91 percent three throw percentage helped Arkansas seal the deal with seconds to go in the game.
• UConn averaged 78.5 points per game during the regular season.
• Arkansas averaged 74.4 points per game during the regular season.
• UConn ranks 39th in points allowed with 64.7 opponents points per game.
• Arkansas ranks 98th in points allowed with 67.4 opponents points per game.
• UConn ranks 18th in rebounds per game with 38.9.
• Arkansas ranks 140th in rebounds per game with 35.5.
• UConn ranks 5th in point differential at +13.7
• Arkansas ranks 61st in point differential at +6.9
• UConn ranks 19th in blocked shots with 4.9 per game.
• Arkansas ranks 10th in blocked shots with 5.1 per game.
• UConn averages 35.7 % from the 3-point, while Arkansas averages 31.7 % beyond the arc.
LAST 10 GAMES + GAME PREDICTION
SPREAD: UConn -4
–UConn covered the spread in 8 of their last 10 games.
–Arkansas covered the spread in 6 their last 10 games.
–UConn has a 23-11-1 record ATS this season.
–Arkansas has a 18-16-1 record ATS this season.
Both teams have proven why they should be in the Sweet 16. UConn flew by Iona and Saint Mary’s, while Arkansas beat tough Illinois and Kansas Teams. Arkansas covered the spread by +3.5 against Kansas, and -2.5 against Illinois. However, I like the tempo UConn is playing at, and they have an efficient defensive team. Although The Razorbacks are red hot, UConn should be able to shut them down from the perimeter.
MONEY LINE: UConn ML
–UConn won the Money Line 8 out of their last 10 games
–Arkansas won the Money Line 5 of their last 10 games.
Dan Hurley’s Huskies are one of the hottest teams right now. I don’t see the Razorbacks slowing down Sanogo in the paint. UConn is the far superior team offensively and have a mean defense. If Arkansas can cover the perimeter, UConn could be in trouble. I like UConn Money line here.
–UConn Avg +/- vs O/U Line: +0.79
–Arkansas Avg +/- vs O/U Line: +0.04
–UConn Overall O/U Record: 19-16-0
-Arkansas O/U Record: 14-20-1
–UConn hit the UNDER in 7 of their last 10 games.
–Arkansas is 5-5 for the Over/Under their last 10 games.
140 seems like a fair number here. I think both sides play hard with plenty of defense. If both teams guard the perimeter, leaving the points up to the inside, this could be a relatively low scoring game. I like the under.
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Sara Jane is a full-time content creator, focusing on both College Basketball, the NBA, NFL, and writer of Ballislife.com. Don’t forget to follow her on Twitter: @GGirlSports
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