Arkansas vs. Vermont NCAA March Madness Odds and Pick

 

While we had some exciting First Four games to whet our appetite over the last couple of days, March Madness finally begins in earnest on Thursday. We’ve got quality matchups scattered throughout the day. One of the more interesting games on the schedule will go down in Buffalo, where the No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks will take on the 13th-seeded Vermont Catamounts.

This is the West Region, so let’s just ignore the fact that the game will take place in New York State. Arkansas is fresh off of a surprising run to the Elite Eight a season ago, where they fell at the hands of the eventual champion Baylor Bears.
Vermont, meanwhile, have become a powerhouse in the America East Conference under head coach John Becker. This is the Catamounts’ fifth NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012, and their third in the last four years.

The point spread for this game isn’t quite as wide as you might think for a 4-vs.-13 matchup. Arkansas is only favored by 4.5 points, according to the up-to-date odds from BetOnline.

This game also comes with an over/under of 139 points.

Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas is a battle-tested SEC team that comes into tonight’s clash at 25-8 on the season. Last year’s leading scorer, Moses Moody, is currently plying his craft in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors. A couple of other major contributors, including Jalen Tate and Justin Smith, have also moved on. Most of the rest of last year’s roster is still intact, however, with senior JD Notae taking over as the Razorbacks’ new top scorer this time around.

The Covington, Georgia, native is averaging 18.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game so far this season for Arkansas in just over 33 minutes per game. Notae has never been a particularly strong jump-shooter, but his ability to knife into the lane and convert tough shots makes him a dynamic scoring threat for Musselman’s squad.

Arkansas got past a tourney-bound LSU side in the first round of the SEC Tournament before a disastrous loss to Texas A&M the next day. The Aggies, who didn’t even qualify for the Big Dance, trounced the Razorbacks, 82-64, in a game that was never particularly close. The Razorbacks went just 3-for-18 from three-point range and coughed up 15 turnovers in that one. Notae was held in check, supplying just five points on dismal 2-for-8 shooting from the floor.

Arkansas’ lack of form could cost them in the tourney. Three of the Razorbacks’ last five games have been decided by five points or less, including a four-point setback to Tennessee in the final game of the regular season.

Arkansas will enjoy a size advantage in the frontcourt, thanks in large part to Jaylin Williams. The star sophomore emerged and averaged 10.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game during the season, and he was one of the only players in the SEC that came close to averaging a double-double.

Arkansas is 20-13-0 against the spread so far this season, including a record of 16-12-0 ATS as a betting favorite.

Vermont Catamounts

While Vermont has been a consistent NCAA Tournament team over the past few seasons, the Catamounts are still looking to make a deep run for the first time. UVM infamously upset John Boeheim’s Syracuse squad in the first round of the 2005 tourney, which is still the program’s most noteworthy triumph to date. This will be Vermont’s eighth appearance in the tourney, with every appearance having come since 2003.

Vermont should be feeling confident coming into this one. The Catamounts shellacked UMBC, 82-43, in the America East Championship Game. You may remember UMBC as the first No. 16 seed to ever defeat a No. 1 seed in a first-round tournament game. Vermont’s margin of victory over the Retrievers in that game was the largest in any conference title game since 1989.

The Catamounts are led by Ryan Davis, a two-time America East Player of the Year. The 6’8″ senior averaged 17.2 points and 5.7 rebounds during the regular season, and he’ll be the focal point of the Catamounts’ attack in this one. He’ll get some help from Ben Shungu, who is likely to draw coverage from Arkansas’ star defender, Davonte Davis.

While UVM doesn’t have the size to match up with Arkansas, they do have experience. Two of the team’s top seven scorers are grad students, while four more are seniors. This may be the “last hurrah” of one of the most prolific eras in the history of Vermont’s impressive men’s basketball program.

Vermont finished the regular season 19-13 against the spread. That includes a 1-2 mark as underdogs. Given the lack of quality competition in the America East, Vermont aren’t used to going into games as underdogs.

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Vermont Catamounts March Madness Game Pick

A key for Arkansas in this game will be running Vermont’s shooters off the three-point line. The Catamounts converted on 36.8 percent of their looks from long range during the regular season, good for the 37th-best rate in America. Arkansas, meanwhile, ranked a dismal 311th in the same category, hitting barely over 30 percent of their attempts from downtown.

Please Note:
The single-elimination format typically puts more pressure on the favorite. However, Arkansas’ lack of form and their inability to knock down open threes could cost them dearly here. If Vermont outguns the Razorbacks from deep, Arkansas could be in real trouble.

Frankly, I think that should be the difference in the game. I think Vermont are an intriguing upset bet to win this game outright, but I prefer to take the value that comes with the Catamounts to cover the 4.5-point spread instead. Arkansas’ athleticism could be an issue for Vermont, but three-point shooting will keep them close all night long. Take Vermont and the points.

Pick:
Vermont Catamounts (+4.5)

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Vermont Catamounts Betting Recap

  • Moneyline: Vermont +175, Arkansas -200
  • Point Spread: Vermont +4.5 (-110), Arkansas -4.5 (-110)
  • Over/Under: Over 139 points (-110), Under 139 points (-110)
  • Pick: Vermont Catamounts +4.5 (-110)

PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!

Taylor Smith / Author

Taylor is a sports writer based in Southern California. While he primarily specializes in basketball, baseball and football, he will also dabble in things like soccer and politics from time to time. He has lived in just about every corner of the United States at one point or another, and he has been covering sports and sports betting for the better part of a decade. Taylor currently lives in Long Beach with his fiancé and their two cats.

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