Arkansas vs. Duke Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Saturday NCAA Tournament Elite 8 Preview (March 26)

Arkansas vs. Duke Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Saturday NCAA Tournament Elite 8 Preview (March 26) article feature image

Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Paolo Banchero (5) of the Duke Blue Devils.

  • Today's NCAA Tournament Elite 8 games feature an exciting matchup between the No. 2 seed Duke Blue Devils and No. 4 seed Arkansas Razorbacks, scheduled to tip off at 8:49 p.m. ET.
  • Duke opened as 4-point favorites over Arkansas, and the betting market hasn't moved much off that opening number. The Blue Devils remain favorites at -3.5 or -4 across the betting market.
  • College basketball betting analyst D.J. James previews today's NCAA Tournament Elite 8 matchup, including updated odds and his betting pick for Arkansas vs. Duke.

Arkansas vs. Duke Odds

Saturday, Mar. 26
8:49 p.m. ET
Arkansas Odds
-110o / -110u
Duke Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

After notching arguably its most impressive win of the season over Texas Tech on Thursday, Duke advances to the Elite Eight to extend Mike Krzyzewski’s career by one more game. On Saturday, the Blue Devils will battle the Arkansas Razorbacks for a Final Four berth.

The Razorbacks took out the top overall seed Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Sweet 16 by forcing turnovers and eliminating the impact of the Zags guards on the game. The game plan succeeded, but now the Razorbacks face a far more balanced Blue Devils team.

Jeremy Roach put the team on his back to overtake the best defense in college basketball (Texas Tech). Now, Duke is primed for a title run and arguably the strongest team remaining on its side of the bracket.

Given the Razorbacks' volatility this season, odds are that Arkansas' journey will end in the Elite Eight … and the Dukies will move to the Final Four by covering the spread.

Arkansas Razorbacks

Head coach Eric Musselman has done a great job with the Razorbacks program. Arkansas maintains a top-12 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, per KenPom — and that defensive acumen has become a staple of the program under Musselman's tenure.

Moreover, the Razorbacks' 20.5% turnover rate has helped propel them to the Elite 8. They forced 15 turnovers by Gonzaga in their upset victory in the Sweet 16, but that kind of performance may not be repeatable against a Duke team that takes care of the basketball.

Duke ranks 21st in offensive turnover rate, and there is little reason to think they will suddenly start turning it over against Arkansas. After some early mishaps in Thursday’s game against Texas Tech, the Blue Devils stabilized and only finished with 10 total turnovers against college basketball's top defense. Arkansas is not as strong at turning opponents over as the Red Raiders.

The Razorbacks offense also thrives when it gets to the free throw line frequently. Arkansas ranks 11th in fouls forced, per Shot Quality: Au’Diese Toney, J.D. Notae, Chris Lykes and Williams all consistently manufacture trips to the charity stripe.

However, Duke possesses yet another neutralizer: The Blue Devils rank second in defensive foul rate. Arkansas generates 22.7% of its offense via the free throw line but will need to find another way to score against Duke's defense.

One area of concern for the Blue Devils is the team's at-times porous perimeter defense. Duke ranks 206th at permitting open 3-point shots, per Shot Quality — a weakness that the Razorbacks offense must exploit in order to win.

Nonetheless, Duke shoots open 3-point jumpers even more effectively than Arkansas does. Since the Razorbacks also have a penchant for leaving open shooters at the perimeter, the matchup may actually be a net-positive for the Blue Devils.

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Duke Blue Devils

Duke ranks top-30 in 2-point and 3-point shooting, per KenPom. The Blue Devils have a tendency to drive the ball or at least get the ball inside — so, they will need to kick it out on occasion. After all, 53.9% of their total scoring distribution has come from inside the perimeter.

Williams is a phenomenal defender for the Razorbacks, and the Arkansas defense can swarm the lane when the ball enters. Nevertheless, since Duke is shooting 37% from beyond the arc as a team, Arkansas' defensive capabilities do not project as a significant problem.

Duke will also have an edge on the glass, where the team ranks 73rd in offensive rebounding, per Shot Quality. Granted, the Blue Devils struggle a bit on the defensive end, but Arkansas does not excel in rebounding on either end of the floor.

The Razorbacks rank 285th in offensive rebound rate and 111th in defensive rebound rate. This mismatch suggests that Paolo Banchero, Wendell Moore, Jr. and Mark Williams will overwhelm Jaylin Williams down low.

The Blue Devils possess a clear size advantage in this matchup, and the teams' rebounding discrepancy should lead to second-chance opportunities on which Duke must capitalize.

Arkansas vs. Duke Betting Pick

Duke has three advantages in its matchup against Arkansas: (1) size; (2) ability to score; and (3) low offensive turnover rate.

Arkansas would need to hit over 40% from 3-point land to remain in range of defeating a clearly superior Duke team. But if Duke's guards play like they did against Texas Tech, this game could reach the double-digits.

Don't forget that this Duke team defeated Gonzaga, as well, earlier in the season. If Duke plays to its observed regular-season potential, then it should win this game and cover the spread. Take the Blue Devils at -4, and play to -5.

Pick: Duke -4 (Play to -5)

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