Stanford vs Arkansas Pick for Wednesday
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Davonte Davis (Arkansas)
Stanford vs Arkansas Pick
The Battle 4 Atlantis tips off on Wednesday with a duel between two teams that want to pick up significant wins.
Stanford needs an NCAA tournament-resume victory, while Arkansas needs to prove its loss to UNC Greensboro last week was nothing more than pre-Feast Week struggles.
In a similar vein, Stanford's surprising loss to Santa Clara put Jerod Haase's team on the microscope, before it cruised against Eastern Washington to ease the detractors for a few days. Now the Cardinal face the biggest test they'll see during the non-conference slate.
I mentioned prior to the season how important Jared Bynum’s addition was for Stanford. He’s completely lived up to all expectations as a playmaker so far, tallying seven or more assists in all four games.
However, his scoring efficiency is unimpressive — shooting 35% from the field and 20% from 3. Bynum’s shot-selection issues plagued him in the past, and it’s flashing again.
Also, Stanford is still searching for its No. 1 scoring option. In the big moments, it seems as if freshman Andrej Stojakovic is taking the crunch-time shots. However, that's probably not the best winning formula.
7-footer Maxime Raynaud should be taking those looks. Raynaud is averaging 19.3 points and nine rebounds in four games. You can draw a line between Raynaud's improvement and Bynum's arrival to Palo Alto.
Stanford is different than it’s been recently, though. Even when the Cards' offense struggled, you could rely on the defense to show up. That’s simply not the case in 2023-24.
Stanford ranks 260th in Torvik’s Defensive Efficiency when preseason numbers get removed. That's not just bad defense, it's terrible defense for the power-conference level.
It won't get any easier against the dangerous Razorbacks.
Arkansas losing as a double-digit favorite to UNC Greensboro is one of the season’s most surprising results to date. Not even the craziest of college basketball diehards saw that result coming. Trust me, I'm a die-hard, and I was stunned.
When diving deeper into the game profile, it’s easy to spot why Arkansas fell short against the Spartans. The Razorbacks shot 4-of-23 from downtown. Also, Arkansas simply couldn’t stop UNCG from driving to the basket. That’s a poor formula for winning games, regardless of the opponent.
It’s not a real surprise, as Trevon Brazile is the only true rim-protecting presence in Arkansas’ starting lineup. The other starters provide more offensive skills than defensive intensity.
Plus, Eric Musselman-coached teams typically take time to get up to speed, given the vast roster changes.
Arkansas will struggle when Devo Davis and Khalif Battle's perimeter shots don't fall. That probably won't happen too often.
Plus, UNC Greensboro hangs its hat on defense under head coach Mike Jones. That clearly impacted Arkansas' ability to string together consecutive strong possessions.
I could see Stanford rounding into form eventually, but right now, Arkansas is significantly more talented and athletic.
Following a disappointing loss, Arkansas feels highly underrated. We're talking about the same squad many people tabbed as a top contender in the SEC. None of that disappeared after one tough game.
The market feels low on Arkansas right now, so buy stock before it's too late.
Pick: Arkansas -5.5 (Play to 6.5)
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