Free Picks: Arkansas Razorbacks vs Texas Tech Red Raiders

March Madness Arkansas vs Texas Tech
Arkansas Razorbacks vs Texas Tech Red Raiders, NCAA, Hinkle Fieldhouse

The No. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks (23-6, 14-5 SEC) had a look at the No. 6 Texas Tech Red Raiders (18-10, 9-9 Big 12) two years ago before the Red Raiders went on their run to the NCAA national final. Things have changed for both teams since then, and now it’s the Razorbacks with the upper hand from a seeding standpoint. But forget about the seedings in this one; both teams can make a great argument for why they’ll be the ones advancing to the next round.

Arkansas must shrug off scare, bear down vs. Texas Tech

If you didn’t catch any of Arkansas’s first round matchup against No. 14 Colgate on Friday, you can’t understand how close the Razorbacks’ 85-68 win really was. Arkansas trailed by as many as 14 in the first half and was locked into a back-and-forth battle for most of the second half before ripping off a late 15-2 run.

Deep breaths, Razorbacks. It’s over. Except now a much tougher opponent awaits in Texas Tech, a team that knows a thing or two about deep tournament runs. Maybe that’s why the Red Raiders — despite being the higher seed — find themselves as one-point favorites (-111 at Betway) on the latest NCAA basketball odds. For this BetPicks prediction, we’ll focus on the money line because the game is such a toss up.

Texas Tech’s opening round matchup with No. 11 Utah State was a game of runs, in which the Red Raiders had the last laugh. They trailed by six early in the second half before exploding for a 24-4 run that put the game out of reach. Against the Aggies, one of the tallest teams in NCAA Division I, Texas Tech was out-rebounded, 38-28. But they were a staggering plus-14 in the turnover battle and shot an impressive 38.9% from three-point range.

Arkansas was plus-12 on turnovers in its matchup, a telling indicator that defense comes first for both of these teams. The Razorbacks ranked 10th in D-I in adjusted defensive efficiency, while the Red Raiders were 19th. The difference is that Arkansas likes to push the pace off turnovers and score on the fast break, while Texas Tech much prefers to take its time and sort out its options on the ensuing possession.

Bettors can look at Arkansas’s early stumble against Colgate one of two ways: either it was a telling sign of what the Razorbacks’ deficiencies are, or it was a wakeup call. You’ve got to hand it to Arkansas; after trailing 33-19 with five minutes left in the first half, the Razorbacks outscored their opponent by 31 points the rest of the way.

We think there’s more potential for shakiness on the Texas Tech side, given that the Red Raiders have lost five of their past nine games. For that reason, we like the Razorbacks to respond well after the Colgate scare and beat Texas Tech straight up (+100 at Betway). And for a bonus free pick, follow the strong “under” trend that both teams have displayed lately.

Stats

  • Arkansas is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 games
  • The UNDER has cashed in six of the Razorbacks’ past eight games
  • Texas Tech is 4-6 ATS in its past 10 games
  • The UNDER has cashed in six of the Red Raiders’ past eight games

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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University). You can follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHorrobin

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