College Basketball Odds, Pick for Arkansas vs UNC
Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images. Pictured: RJ Davis (North Carolina)
- Arkansas and UNC square off in the Battle 4 Atlantis third-place game on Friday.
- The Razorbacks lost to Memphis in the semis while the Tar Heels fell to Villanova in overtime.
- Read below for college basketball odds and a pick for Arkansas vs. UNC.
Arkansas vs North Carolina Odds
It’s the third-place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis between No. 20 Arkansas and No. 14 North Carolina. Before the tournament, most people predicted this matchup coming in the tournament championship.
Regardless, the stakes remain high.
Arkansas fell short to Memphis, 81-76, in the semifinals, and it also barely snuck past Stanford in the previous round. Meanwhile, North Carolina had every opportunity to beat Villanova and play in the championship game, but it failed to get enough stops late.
Here's college basketball odds and a pick for Arkansas vs. UNC on Friday, Nov. 24.
The Razorbacks began the season ranked No. 14, but losses to UNC Greensboro, an unimpressive win against Stanford and a loss to Memphis will likely have them unranked on Monday.
Arkansas' lackluster defensive effort over the past week must improve in this matchup against North Carolina’s dangerous offense.
A concern is the lack of discipline from Eric Musselman's crew. The defensive communication looks shaky, shooters are left wide-open and the dribble penetration is putting the whole defense in tough situations.
Luckily, following a 4-of-21 shooting slump in the prior two games, Khalif Battle bounced back for 21 points on 5-of-8 shooting against Memphis. While Arkansas looks to find its identity, it can rely on Battle’s shooting and the driving prowess of Tramon Mark to keep the offense afloat.
The never-ending rotation shuffle is a sign of the coaches looking for something positive amid struggles. In some games, Mussleman plays Chandler Lawson for 20+ minutes. In some games, he plays point guard El Ellis for 15 minutes.
That's not surprising for a "deep roster" in the non-conference slate.
The uncertainty surrounding the point guard situation is concerning, though. Ellis scored zero points and tossed three assists, while Layden Blocker replaced him in the starting five. The scoring threat from Devo Davis/Blocker isn't imposing enough to scare opposing defenses like Ellis can. Arkansas needs Ellis to find his footing, and quickly.
Another factor: Trevon Brazile is arguably the most important player for Arkansas. So, is it worth putting him in danger of picking up fouls as the starting five-man, or is it worth putting the combination of Makhi Mitchell/Lawson next to him as an insurance policy?
I think the latter is best, but it halts the offensive flow.
In totality, North Carolina played well enough to beat Villanova. However, well enough isn’t good enough when All-American candidate Armando Bacot struggles. The super senior scored eight points on 4-of-10 shooting while struggling against Eric Dixon (34 points) defensively.
For North Carolina to play like the 14th-best team in America, Bacot needs the ball early and often. Plus, Arkansas struggles to defend the paint, so getting Bacot established early will open up the Tar Heels' shooting.
Another huge key in Chapel Hill is RJ Davis. Caleb Love is gone, so all of the guard blame is placed directly on the struggling Davis. Sure, Davis scored 23 points against Nova — which isn't bad in theory — but when those 23 points come on 22 shots, it's another story.
It’s simple: Davis and Bacot didn't perform well enough to beat Villanova. When that fearsome duo is humming, it can lead North Carolina to great heights.
On the positive side, Harrison Ingram and Cormac Ryan made huge contributions in the loss to Villanova. The transfer duo helps open up the Heels' offense, which could pay dividends against Arkansas' defense.
I'm fully buying into North Carolina running the offense around Bacot, as he has the potential to dominate the Razorbacks' frontline.
It'll take time for Arkansas to get into form — so, fade the Razorbacks, then reconvene in a couple of weeks when it's time to buy Arkansas stock on the low-end.
I just can't justify backing Arkansas based on its performance in the past three games — it's just not a wise bet to make right now.
Pick: North Carolina -2.5
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