The Arkansas Razorbacks and Baylor Bears meet in the second Elite Eight game of the NCAA Tournament on Monday night. In the first contest, the Oregon State Beavers and Houston Cougars will play to decide who is going to be the first team to go to the Final Four. That’s an interesting game between a red-hot Oregon State team and a balanced Houston outfit.
You can check the college basketball page at TheSportsGeek if you are looking for a pick in the Oregon State and Houston matchup. I’m going to tackle the Razorbacks and Bears, which is scheduled to begin at approximately 10:00 p.m. EST.
Arkansas are lucky to get to the Elite Eight after a couple of scary final seconds against the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Oral Roberts Golden Eagles. Texas Tech missed a bunny lay-up to tie and force overtime against Arkansas, and then Oral Roberts came up short by two points after missing a potential game-winner.
I don’t want to say a win against Texas Tech is all luck, but that game could have easily gone to the Red Raiders. The same could be said for their win over Oral Roberts. They could have lost that game if they didn’t get a call or bounce their way. The Razorbacks are going to have to play better against Baylor tonight or they’re going home without smelling the Final Four.
It’s imperative that Arkansas doesn’t get off to a slow start in this contest. Their slow starts have been problematic this season. Against weaker opponents that can be fine, but not against an elite team like the Bears. Head coach Eric Musselman must have his Razorbacks firing from the opening tip-off. Baylor was uncharacteristically slow from the jump versus Villanova in the Sweet Sixteen.
The Wildcats had Baylor on the ropes in the first-half. They were up 30-23 at the break and allowed that one to slip away in the second. Baylor had a poor game shooting the ball, but still managed to win and cover the spread. They beat Villanova by a score of 39-21 in the second-half to get back on track. Baylor only has two losses on their resume, with a cumulative record of 25-2. Head below for our free Arkansas vs. Baylor pick on March 29, 2021.
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Baylor Bears Elite Eight Betting Odds:
Arkansas vs. Baylor Prediction:
Baylor didn’t look like themselves in the first-half against Villanova. The Bears were missing open shots that they usually make. However, when they regained their footing in the second-half, it was abundantly clear that the Wildcats were dealing with one of the best teams in the NCAA. When Baylor is rolling from the field, they can be a tough train to slow down. The Bears have scored an average of 85.3 points per game for third in the country.
Note that they are the best team in the country from three-point land, with a success rate of 42.9%. After failing to shoot the three well against Villanova, I could see Baylor bouncing back and hitting their stroke versus a very vanilla Arkansas’ defense. The Razorbacks like to run and shoot. Their offense looks more of a freestyle offense than a unit that sets up and runs plays. This free flowing offense has hurt them on the other side of the floor.
They’ve conceded 70.7 points per game for 196th in the NCAA. Are they a bad defense? Far from it, but they do sacrifice some of their defense when they run their offense at the pace that they do. Baylor is a defense that can run down Arkansas. Don’t expect the Razorbacks to have as many opportunities in transition on the fast break as they normally do. Baylor is big and they can run the floor well, too.
The Bears have the clear upper hand defensively in this Elite Eight matchup. They have allowed 65.6 points per game for 57th in the NCAA. In their previous five outings, Baylor has given up 64 points a game, including just 63 and 51 against Wisconsin and Villanova. While Arkansas score 83.3 points per game, it’s because of their fast pace, not because they’re shooting at an incredibly high clip. They are shooting 45.6% from the field for 89th as opposed to 49.7% for Baylor, 13th in the NCAA.
The team that is able to dictate the pace in this game is going to win. I don’t have as much confidence in Arkansas running wild as I do Baylor setting up their offense and operating their well-balanced attack. If Baylor slows things down and is able to run their offense how they want, Arkansas isn’t going to get enough possessions as they’d like in this one.
The points might look attractive at first glance, though I think the Razorbacks run into the same issue as Alabama did last night against a good defense. Unlike UCLA, Baylor can pull away and bury an opponent with their athletes if that’s how things play out. Look for Arkansas to keep things interesting for a minute, before the bigger and more athletic Bears take the game over for a 78-67 win.