The Kansas Jayhawks continue their national title defense on Saturday against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Round of 32. Check out below for our Arkansas vs. Kansas prediction based on the top NCAAB odds.
Arkansas (21-13, 8-10 SEC) was a preseason AP top-10 team before injuries hit the Razorbacks hard. Arkansas still misses center Travon Brazile but is the healthiest it has been in quite some time, with NBA prospect Nick Smith Jr. back playing the wing for the last 10 games. Smith has scored 16-plus points in four of the previous seven games, and he raises the ceiling considerably for a Razorbacks team that is battle-tested out of the rugged SEC.
Kansas (28-7, 13-5) has not lost a game to anyone other than Texas since February 4 but dropped two to the Longhorns in that span, including the Big 12 Tournament championship. Per ESPN Stats & Info, Kansas' 96 points in its tournament opener are the most by a defending champion in its first tournament game since Florida in 1997. In addition, the Jayhawks have now won a game in 16 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, tied for the second-longest streak all-time.
Here is our best Arkansas vs. Kansas prediction (odds via FanDuel; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
Arkansas vs. Kansas odds
Arkansas vs. Kansas prediction
Per Jon Fendler on Twitter, we are looking at a historically low point spread in this matchup, as Michigan in 2021 was the only other No. 1 seed that closed at -4 or lower in a Round of 32 game in the last 20 seasons. And while the curiously low spread will have many backing the Jayhawks in droves, we have too much respect for the Razorbacks and expect them to stay within the number.
Arkansas ha s a difficult time defending 3-pointers off the dribble, but Illinois ranked 218th in that category, and the Razorbacks held the Fighting Illini to just 27.3% (6-for-22) from 3-point range. That bodes well for Arkansas when facing a Kansas team that ranks an even worse 231st in the same category.
Check out our March Madness best bets and all of our March Madness picks for Saturday
The optics of a No. 1 seed playing a No. 8 seed may look like there is a huge talent gap, but Arkansas has five former RSCI top 100 recruits. In addition, the Razorbacks were never in jeopardy of not receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after finishing the regular season 17th in strength of schedule and with a ShotQuality rank of 29th.
The last thing making this a three-star play on the Razorbacks is that the Jayhawks continue to be without head coach Bi ll Self. He was expected to be back on the sidelines for the NCAA Tournament after being hospitalized due to an illness. However, he still missed the Howard game, which has to affect the team's preparation for a much more formidable opponent.
Arkansas vs. Kansas best odds
BetMGM and DraftKings opened this line at -3.5 for Kansas but that was quickly bet up to -4 before a slight overnight downtick to a near consensus of -3.5. Caesars is the only one of our best sportsbooks hanging a flat 3.
Arkansas vs. Kansas odds analysis
Kansas opened as a consensus -3.5 point favorite, but that line moved to -4 at DraftKings and BetRivers before settling back to -3.5 by Saturday morning.
BetMGM and DraftKings were in unison with the opening total of 145.5, but BetRivers is a full point lower at 144.5, yet charges -114 in juice to back the Over.
Kansas is backed by 67% of the betting action as of early Saturday while the Over has drawn 58% of the betting support.
Arkansas vs. Kansas game info
- Date: Saturday, March 18, 5: 15 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
- Location: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA
Arkansas-Kansas pick made 3/16/2023 at 10:58 p.m. ET.
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