Bradley vs. Arkansas Odds & Picks: Razorbacks on Upset Alert?
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Arkansas’ Ricky Council IV (1).
- The Bradley Braves and Arkansas Razorbacks meet in college basketball action on Saturday afternoon.
- The Hogs enter as big favorites, but Jim Root of Three Man Weave thinks the Braves can keep it close.
- Read on for Root's full betting guide and pick for Bradley vs. Arkansas.
Bradley vs. Arkansas Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Plenty of focus will be on the marquee Saturday matchups (and justifiably so — what a group of games), but value lurks everywhere on such a gigantic slate. It behooves the clever bettor to search far and wide for wagers.
Of course, this can also be a funky week for handicapping. Finals week (and the lessened crowds that go with it) frequently mess with motivation; anecdotally, some home favorites struggle to bring the same intensity.
That’s typically not a problem for Arkansas. Under Eric Musselman, Fayetteville has a reputation as a house of horrors for inferior visitors. The Razorbacks play with their hair on fire until the final whistle, and a road dog cover is not safe until the clock hits 0:00.
That hasn’t exactly been true lately, though. Both Troy and UNC Greensboro played Arkansas within one point for 35 minutes at Bud Walton Arena. The Hogs won both games but didn’t cover either.
Now, they face another well-coached defensive stalwart in Bradley.
The Braves have been an exhausting team to track so far this season. Multiple players have been in and out of the lineup, constantly making their games a “check the lineup” conundrum.
At long last, that might be a figment of the past.
It started when wing Connor Hickman returned quickly from a one-game absence. Then, Dutch star Rienk Mast made his season debut Nov. 26 after recovering from a preseason knee injury. Guard Zek Montgomery made his own return to the lineup 10 days ago. And veteran forward Ja’Shon Henry cleared concussion protocol this week, per Peoria Journal Star writer Dave Eminian.
Henry’s status is still up in the air — Will he need to get more practice time in before playing a game? If he plays, it would mark the first time that the Braves are truly at full strength. Even without him, though, this Bradley team is a real threat given its immense defensive ability.
Mast is the anchor inside, a thoroughly dominant rebounder who is as sound positionally as any big man in the Missouri Valley. Lanky forwards Malevy Leons and Darius Hannah are ultra-disruptive. Both rank in the top 100 nationally in block rate, per KenPom, and are capable of guarding four-plus positions.
Five-foot-eight ballhawk Duke Deen is the head of the snake, pressuring opposing guards and wreaking havoc on the opposition’s offensive rhythm.
Generating points has been a pain point, especially without Henry (13.0 PPG) in the lineup. But when a team defends as well as Bradley does, it only needs so many buckets to pull out victories.
The Hogs have become an extremely distinct bunch since the Muss Bus rolled into town. Under his watch, Arkansas is a whirlwind of athleticism, usually with a pro prospect or two in the mix.
Defensively, Musselman’s Razorbacks are frequently switchable at almost every position and capable of incendiary runs when the defense gets overwhelming. They wear foes down with their otherworldly physical abilities.
On the offensive end, he leans on a pro-style approach: a heavy dose of ball screens, often with the goal of mismatch hunting. Musselman wants the ball in his best playmakers’ hands, ideally attacking the opponent’s worst defenders.
This year, his best playmakers are freshmen Anthony Black and Nick Smith Jr. and transfer Ricky Council. All three have size and ball skills, and all three have multiple games with 20-plus points already this year.
That is especially impressive for Smith, a potential top-five NBA Draft pick who has played in just four games due to injury. The electric southpaw is only just starting to ramp up to full speed. He’s an All-American candidate once he does.
Of note: key forward Trevon Brazile is out for the season with a torn ACL. The 6-foot-10 Missouri transfer was a pro prospect thanks to his length and skill combination. However, Arkansas’ on/off numbers did not reflect a massive drop-off without him.
Musselman did an outstanding job securing depth in the transfer portal. Twins Makhi and Makhel Mitchell and Jalen Graham are all plenty capable of executing Arkansas’ scheme.
Bradley vs. Arkansas Betting Pick
This could be a challenging matchup for Arkansas’ offense. Bradley’s entire frontcourt is versatile enough to hold up in switches — especially Leons, a true monster on the defensive end
. Expect Arkansas to attack Deen often; he’s simply too small to hold up consistently against the Hogs’ bigger playmakers.
Even so, Bradley’s help defense is tremendous. Mast, Hannah and/or Leons will be waiting at the rim for any Razorbacks who penetrate the initial perimeter shell. UNC Greensboro found success with a compact scheme, and Bradley could do the same.
The Fayetteville crowd boost will aid the Razorbacks, but I still believe Bradley can frustrate the Hogs and keep this close.