Game: Vermont Catamounts @ Arkansas Razorbacks
Time: 9:20 p.m. ET
Odds: Catamounts +5, Razorbacks -5
This No. 4-No. 13 game is one that many have looked at as a potential upset in the NCAA tournament bracket. Vermont pulling the upset will be extremely difficult. While the Catamounts did go 28-5 this season and win the America East Conference yet again, Vermont has yet to see a defense like Arkansas.
Vermont is led by two-time America East Player of the Year Ryan Davis who averaged 17.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this season. At 6-foot-8-inches, Davis is a versatile big man who can play down low in the paint and set up on the perimeter and knock down three-pointers. Davis is one of the reasons why Vermont wound up ranked third in the country in two-point scoring rate and 38th in three-point scoring rate.
The problem for Vermont will be an extremely tough and athletic Arkansas defense. The Razorbacks finished first in the SEC in adjusted defensive efficiency. That is pretty impressive considering the competition in the conference (Tennessee, Auburn, Kentucky, etc.). Arkansas big man Jaylin Williams (10.5 ppg, 9.6 rpg) will draw Davis and he has the ability to defend inside or out.
On the other end, Vermont will have a tough time keeping pace with the Razorbacks. Head coach Eric Musselman favors a more up-tempo speed to the game. Vermont prefers to play its game in the half-court. This game will come down to Vermont making shots. The Catamounts finished fifth in the nation in field goal percentage (49.3%). If they are able to hit shots, they can stay in the game. If they don’t shoot well, Arkansas is a top 35 rebounding team which will present some problems.
Vermont did advance past the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2005. Also, a No. 14 seed that year, the Catamounts upset fourth-seeded Syracuse. Vermont finished this season with eight straight wins. The Catamounts went 6-2 ATS in those eight games. They had a very respectable 19-12-1 ATS record for the season. Since that 2005 NCAA tournament, Vermont has made the Big Dance four other times. In those games, the Catamounts are 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS. They won a First Four game in 2012.
The Razorbacks made it to the Elite Eight last year and would love nothing more than taking that a step further this season. Arkansas went 15-3 SU over its last 18 games, but two of the losses came in the Razorbacks’ final three games of the season. The Razorbacks have been good against the number with an 11-2-1 ATS mark in their last 14 games. For the season, Arkansas is 20-12-1 ATS.
Five of the last six Vermont games saw the total go Under. Arkansas has been trending Over all season. Each of their last six games has gone Over the posted total. That gives the Razorbacks a 20-13 O/U record for the season. In Arkansas’ six neutral site games this season, the Over is 4-2.