After knocking off the one-seed Kansas Jayhawks, the Arkansas Razorbacks now find themselves in the Sweet 16 against the UCONN Huskies. We’ll preview the exciting matchup before going over why I’ll be targeting the point total in this one.
Through the tournament's first two rounds, the Huskies have made light work of their opponents. After beating Iona by 24 points, UCONN turned around and beat a tough St. Mary’s team by 15, holding the Gaels to just 55 points in the game. The Huskies' ability to beat teams on both ends of the floor was on display last round as they shot 54% from the field while holding St. Mary’s to a 39% field goal percentage.
After shooting 48% in the first round, it’s not much of a surprise the Huskies have the 3rd best offensive efficiency rating on KenPom, and rank 33rd in effective field goal percentage. Adama Sonogo is a big reason for the Huskies' impressive offensive numbers, and he was dominant in the first weekend, scoring 28 and 24 points while pulling in a total of 21 rebounds in the two games.
One of the more intriguing matchups in tonight’s matchup will be between Sonogo and the Arkansas defense that ranks 15th in the country in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. The Razorbacks managed to hold Kansas to a 38% three-point percentage last round while also holding them to just six offensive rebounds in the game, which will be key tonight against a UCONN team that ranks 3rd in offensive rebounding percentage.
Offensively, the Razorbacks managed to use their strong ability in getting to the free throw line against the Jayhawks, which led to them knocking down 21 free throws on 26 attempts. Arkansas is 21st in the country in free throw attempts per game, and they have a good chance to get to the line a bunch tonight since the Huskies are 304th in opponent free throw attempts per game.
The point total in this game can currently be found at 140.5, and I’ll be taking the under for my play in this one. The under is 5-0 in the Razorbacks' last five NCAA Tournament games and 4-1 in their previous five games played at a neutral site. UCONN has also had the under go 5-1 in their last six games, and it is 5-0 following a game in which the Huskies have an ATS win. We’ve seen the under dominate this tournament, and with these teams ranked 14th and 15th in defensive efficiency, I think that will continue to be the case.
Arkansas has the ability to limit the Huskies from three-point range, as they rank 23rd in opponent three-point percentage and 5th in opponent threes made per game. The Huskies attempt an average of 25.1 threes per game, so not being able to clean looks from deep could drastically affect them.
The Razorbacks have also pulled in double-digit offensive rebounds through the tournament's first two games, which has led to great second-chance opportunities. It will be a challenge for them to recreate that tonight against UCONN since they rank 19th in defensive rebounding percentage. If the game is played on the Huskies' tempo, then I think we’ll see yet another tournament game go under the total.