Arkansas vs Connecticut Preview & Free Pick [3/23/2023]

Arkansas (22-13) vs Connecticut (27-8)
When: Thursday, March 23rd 2023
Where: T-Mobile Arena,
Las Vegas, NV
Time: 7:15 ET | TV: CBS
Opening Odds: Connecticut -4/140

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The Sweet 16 gets underway Thursday night with some great matchups including the Arkansas Razorbacks facing the Connecticut Huskies from Las Vegas, Nevada. The fourth-seeded Huskies are not a surprise, as many – including myself – predicted them to go far in this tournament.

UConn has steamrolled their first two opponents – an 87-63 route of Iona in the first round, then handled a very good Saint Mary’s team 70-55 on Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16. The Huskies have the size, depth and solid defense to make a serious run at the Final Four in Houston.

Arkansas shocked many by taking out the West Region top seed Kansas in the second round to advance to their second consecutive Sweet 16 under head coach Eric Musselman. The Razorbacks started the tournament by eliminating ninth-seeded Illinois 73-63 before their 72-71 triumph over the Jayhawks.

UConn opened as 4-point favorites, but are now down to 3.5 with a total of 140. These schools last met in the 2017 season with Arkansas cruising 102-67. The Razorbacks are 18-16-1 ATS on the season, while the Huskies are an impressive 23-11-1 including 12-6 ATS away from home.

Arkansas is hard to defend with five players averaging at least 11.0 points per game, led by Ricky Council IV (16.1). He had 21 points in the win over Kansas, but it was Davonte Davis who led the way with 25 on 9-of-15 shooting.

The defense is terrific as well. Arkansas ranks 15th nationally with 93.4 points allowed per 100 possessions adjusted. In the first round, Arkansas forced 17 turnovers in the win over Illinois. All-Big 12 freshman guard Gradey Dick of Kansas managed just seven points in the second round. Arkansas is 6-1 against the spread in its last seven games at a neutral site.

Saint Mary’s has one of the best offenses in the country, but it didn’t matter against UConn in the second round. The Huskies shot 54.0 percent from the field and hit 10-of-22 from behind the arc. They average 9.1 three-pointers per game.

While guard play will be fully on display in this game, the Huskies have an edge in the middle with Adama Sonogo. The 6-foot-9, 245-pound junior put up 24 points and eight rebounds against Saint Mary’s and recorded 28 and 13 against Iona. UConn is 7-1 against the spread in its last 8 games overall.

Arkansas is better than an 8-seed, but this UConn team is probably more like a 2 or 3 seed. The Huskies have been dominant in their two wins and I have them winning the whole thing. I’ll keep riding Connecticut.

Pick: Connecticut -3.5

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