Arkansas vs. Texas Tech NCAA Tournament Odds & Pick: Razorbacks Worth a Bet to Win Outright? (Sunday, March 21)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Arkansas guard JD Notae
Arkansas vs. Texas Tech Odds
|Texas Tech Odds||-2|
|Moneyline||+105 / -129|
|Time||6:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds updated Sunday at 5:20 p.m. ET and via DraftKings|
The Razorbacks were the sleeper to make the Final Four out of the South Region.
That was questionable through the first 15 minutes of their opening matchup against Colgate, as the Raiders came out burning the nets with deep shooting and patrolling the paint.
After a 15-2 run by Colgate, Arkansas answered with a 19-0 run that extended through the second half. A 15-2 scoring run late in the game had Arkansas firing on all cylinders from Devo Davis steals, JD Notae 3-pointers and Justin Smith owning the paint.
— Collin Wilson (@_Collin1) March 19, 2021
Texas Tech advanced against a feisty Utah State team, as both the Aggies and Red Raiders traded long extended scoring periods. Chris Beard’s squad went on a 24-4 run in the middle of the second half to seal the victory for the Big 12 member. Texas Tech was outrebounded but forced 22 turnovers against Utah State.
Texas Tech is going all out this sequence 😤
This is what the tourney is all about pic.twitter.com/mEa1e8rHuX
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 19, 2021
Now the old Southwest Conference rivalry is set between the Razorbacks and Red Raiders. Beard and Eric Musselman have met just once before: A Texas Tech overtime victory against Nevada in December of 2017.
When Arkansas Has the Ball
The Razorbacks prefer to get up the court fast, ranking 32nd in offensive tempo.
While the point distribution points to the Hogs getting most of their points in the interior, there are long-distance shooters to beat a zone defense from Texas Tech — the Red Raiders prefer to cut off the middle of the floor, which should make this a tough scoring day for Smith and returning freshman Jaylin Williams.
Texas Tech opponents have had great shot quality from the perimeter, as the Red Raiders are 219th in defensive 3-point percentage. The Hogs will depend on a number of long-distance shooters such as the flammable Notae as well as Moses Moody, who has shot 37.6% from downtown on the season.
Slashers for the Razorbacks may have success getting to the line. Smith, Davis and Jalen Tate attack the rim relentlessly, which is a combination that could be trouble for a Texas Tech team that is 277th in defensive free throw rate.
The Red Raiders are third in the nation in defensive shot quality rank, which should put the pressure in this game on the Razorbacks to get to the rim and hit outside shots.
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
Do not look for Texas Tech to take a ton of 3-pointers — a place where teams in the SEC did have success against the Hogs.
We mentioned defensive shot quality above for the Red Raiders defense, but the Razorbacks are not far off in those ranks, placing 12th. The Hogs can flip from man-to-man and the 2-3 zone depending on the opponent, but the return of Williams from injury will be needed in this game to help defend Terrence Shannon and Marcus Santos-Silva in the interior.
Texas Tech | Cross Stagger-Reject — love this set to get a post iso touch. pic.twitter.com/FwdRtm9fGO
— Coach Rio (@MarioCelebre) March 19, 2021
Texas Tech has a heavy point distribution leaning toward the free throw line — a rate that ranks 28th nationally. The Red Raiders shoot just 71.5% from the line on the season, but have been under that mark over their past three games.
Mac McClung is the all-star of this squad with the highest free throw rate and shooting percentage. He also boasts a fantastic turnover rate, which will be needed when the harassment of Davis and Tate are unleashed by Musselman.
This is a sound Texas Tech offenses that does not turn the ball over, gets to the free throw line often and takes high-quality percentage shots from the interior.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Tempo will be a point of contention in this game. The Red Raiders have an adjusted tempo rank of 317th, while the Razorbacks check in at 17th. The question is whether Arkansas can defend the slow half court offense of Texas Tech, as the Hogs defensive tempo rate is third in the nation.
The Razorbacks have double-digit victories over multiple teams that have tempo rates outside of the top 250, including North Texas, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. Musselman does not mind going to a half court defense against slow tempos, as the Ole Miss and North Texas games were the slowest recorded on the season for Arkansas.
For that reason, the under is worth a bet.
As for the side, this game is power rated as a toss up and KenPom projects a 1-point victory for Texas Tech. These are two top 20 defenses as Texas Tech is sixth in turnover rate and Arkansas is 19th in block rate. If there’s an advantage against the defensive units, it’s Arkansas’ offensive rebounding — the Red Raiders are outside the top 250 on the defensive glass.
Ultimately, the pick is Arkansas for one of the most overlooked stats in the game: Texas Tech fouls plenty with a defensive free throw rate of 278th. Texas Tech also gets the majority of its offensive points at the line. This game will be won on clean interior defense and free throw shooting.
Arkansas holds effective field goal and free throw shooting edge, making this a spot to back a small size wager on the Hogs.
Pick: Arkansas pick’em or better | Under 140 or better