The Sweet 16 is right around the corner, and we here at TheSportsGeek have got you covered! After a wild weekend of madness last weekend, where we saw a whopping 4 double-digit seeds advance to the 2nd weekend, many of you out there might be a bit hesitant to jump into the fray this weekend. But even with as crazy as things got last weekend, if you followed my picks, you had a winning record and got paid, so now is not the time to lose faith!
The east coast rebounded after a west coast dominated tournament last year ?
What's the closest Sweet Sixteen team to your city? ? pic.twitter.com/WbrxrFtDjX
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) March 21, 2022
Today, we are going to jump right back into the madness, as we preview the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 game between the top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs and the 4-seed Arkansas Razorbacks and give you the high value betting advice that you need to make money betting in March. With that, let’s head to the West Regional to break down all of the action between the Zags and the Hogs!
Arkansas Razorbacks (27-8)
The Arkansas Razorbacks had a strong regular season, and they hit the NCAA tournament as a team that had a legit shot of cutting down the nets in New Orleans at the Final Four. And while this team did manage to survive the opening weekend, despite having the easiest path of any team, they just didn’t look very good. Arkansas barely snuck past 13-seed Vermont in the round of 64 and they had to pull out the game against 12-seed New Mexico State, in the round of 32, in the final minute of action.
I try to never overreact to a small sample size of games, but if Arkansas plays like they did against the Catamounts and the Aggies, against the nation’s top team, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, they are going to get blown out. A quick glance at the Razorback’s full body of work shows me a team that has wins over LSU, Auburn, Tennessee, and Kentucky, so this is a team that can compete against, and beat, elite teams.
Fear nobody. Respect everybody.
That's the motto. pic.twitter.com/WJJdH1HQVt
— Sweet Sixteen Hogs ? (@RazorbackMBB) March 21, 2022
The question for Arkansas is which version of the Hogs are we going to see on the floor on Thursday night? The one that won 14 out of 15 games late in the season in the SEC, one of the toughest leagues in the country? Or the one that looked awful against Vermont and probably should have lost to New Mexico State? If the regular season Razorbacks show up, we are going to have an epic matchup, if not, the Zags will walk to the Elite Eight and the game won’t be close.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (28-3)
Is this the year that Mark Few will finally breakthrough with his first national title in Spokane? While I do think that this year’s Zags team isn’t quite as good as last year’s squad, I think the field as a whole was way down this year, and Gonzaga is clearly the top dog still playing. But similar to Arkansas, we haven’t seen the best of the Bulldogs so far in this tournament, at least not in the first half.
GU trailed early against both Georgia State and Memphis, needing big 2nd half finishes in both games to survive and advance, and they can ill afford to come out slow against an Arkansas team that is looking to make it back to the Elite Eight in back-to-back years.
As bad as the Bulldogs looked early in those games, they looked almost unbelievably good in the 2nd half of both contests. Against Georgia State, they put together a 21-0 run to pull away from the Panthers, eventually leading by as many as 30-points. You know that your team has some unreasonable expectations when you are up 30 in an NCAA tournament game and all that the media wants to talk about is how poor you played!
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) March 21, 2022
In their 2nd game, the Zags found themselves down as many as 12-points to Memphis just after halftime, and they needed to find a way to score points in a hurry to close that gap. Few went with a tried a true strategy, of feeding the ball to big man Drew Timme on just about every possession, and Timme did what he had to do, as he nearly single handily brought the Bulldogs back to life.
Timme was a national player of the year candidate this season, and he has stepped up in a huge way in the tournament, dropping 32 and 13 on Georgia State and 25 and 14 against Memphis. Few knows that his best chance at winning his first national title is to feed Timme in the post, and he has shown that he is willing to do that for as long as it is working, so you can expect another big outing from Drew Manchu.
Arkansas Razorbacks vs Gonzaga Bulldogs Betting Odds And Team Statistics
The following odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
|Arkansas Razorbacks||+9 (-110)||+390||Over 155 (-110)|
|Gonzaga Bulldogs||-9 (-110)||-480||Under 155 (-110)|
|Team Data||Arkansas Razorbacks||Gonzaga Bulldogs|
|Points Per Game||76.2||87.8|
|Points Against Per Game||68.0||65.9|
|Field Goal %||43.5%||52.6%|
|Three Point %||30.4%||37.4%|
Arkansas Razorbacks vs Gonzaga Bulldogs Prediction:
I rarely ever expect to see teams get blown out late in the NCAA tournament. We see a lot of blowouts and upsets in that opening weekend every year, but the Sweet 16 tends to be where the good teams are separated from the great teams, and the best teams advance. Certainly, that isn’t always the case, but as each round passes by, the cream seemingly always rises to the top, and we see that play out in the data, as nearly all of our national champions are top-4 seeds.
And while I am sure that nobody is calling Arkansas a Cinderella at this point, as this is a very good basketball team, that deserves to be where they are at, I don’t see the Hogs as being on the same level as the Zags. Kenpom has Gonzaga winning this game by double digits, and so do I. I think that wake-up call against Memphis was the best thing for the Bulldogs, as they got a week to regroup, and I think we are going to see the 2nd half version of the Zags early in this game.
And if that ends up happening, Arkansas just won’t be able to hang around and keep this game competitive. Let’s look at that start to the 2nd half for Gonzaga against Memphis, as an example of how I see this game playing out. Memphis played the best half of basketball that they were capable of playing, and they came out of halftime smelling the upset. And despite having 2 projected NBA lottery picks on the floor in Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates, Gonzaga went from down 12-points, to tied, in less than 6 minutes.
Lets talk Timme ??
57pts / 62.2FG% / 27rebs / 6ast pic.twitter.com/IYpjKtChai
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) March 21, 2022
Gonzaga has a rare combination of an extremely fast tempo, 2nd fastest in the nation on offense, and the ability to score the ball efficiently. Normally, when we see a team that plays as fast as the Zags do, they give up efficiency for speed. That isn’t the case with the Bulldogs though, as they lead the nation in offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage. With a team that can score as fast and efficiently as Gonzaga can, if Arkansas is off their game for even a couple of minutes, they are going to blink and be down double-digits.
Arkansas Razorbacks vs Gonzaga Bulldogs Betting Trends:
- Arkansas is 14-5-1 ATS in their last 20 games
- The total has gone OVER in 7 of Arkansas’ last 8 games
- Arkansas is 17-3 SU in their last 20 games
- Arkansas is 1-8-1 ATS in their last 10 games played on a Thursday
- Arkansas is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games when playing as the underdog
- Gonzaga is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Gonzaga’s last 6 games
- Gonzaga is 19-1 SU in their last 20 games
- Gonzaga is 9-1 SU in their last 10 games this season
- Gonzaga is 10-0 SU in their last 10 games played in March
We have seen a pitiful performance out of the SEC in this tournament, as the league that many people thought was the best in the country on Selection Sunday, has a losing record overall, and Arkansas is their last team standing. Many in the media are saying that is because the league was overrated all season long, but I just don’t think that is the case. I think the SEC was great this year, but those teams beat each other up for months, and when they hit the madness, they were all out of gas.
You don’t want your gas tank anywhere near empty when you are playing the high-flying Bulldogs, and if there was one word that I think best describes how the Razorbacks have looked in this tournament, it would be, tired.
Even if Gonzaga comes out flat again, which I don’t think will happen, they can make up ground and score points so quickly, that they are never too far away from a cover. I am by no means an Arkansas hater, but I don’t think that they have what it takes to play with Gonzaga, and I see them getting down early, and fading late, as the Bulldogs dominate and punch their ticket to the Elite Eight with a double-digit victory. I’ll call it an 88-65 final score with the Zags winning and covering in blowout fashion.