Duke vs Arkansas Odds, Pick
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Eric Musselman (Arkansas)
Duke vs Arkansas Odds, Pick
Editor's Note: Tramon Mark is out for Arkansas
We head out to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where Bud Walton Arena will be extra charged up on Wednesday as the Duke Blue Devils will enter to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. This is another terrific matchup as part of the ACC/SEC Challenge.
Both of these teams appear to be trending in opposite directions to begin the year, which makes this handicap even more intriguing.
The Blue Devils have been playing terrific basketball as of late, despite getting off to a sluggish start against Southern Indiana in their last game. There's a reason why Jon Scheyer's team is among the favorites to win the national title, and it's all because of his team's balance.
The Blue Devils enter this contest ranked fourth in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and a respectable 79th in Defensive Efficiency. Although the defense could be better, this seems like a group that will progressively improve in that area as the year goes on.
The Blue Devils' 3-point shooting has been really impressive; this was a missing piece on last year's team. Notably, freshman Jared McCain has been absolutely lights out from beyond the arc, hitting 12-of-26 3-pointers on the season.
In this matchup, I would expect the Blue Devils to continue to have success from 3-point land, as this is a major weakness for the Razorbacks' defense.
Duke should also get a multitude of productive possessions, considering it doesn't turn the ball over. This is another area the Razorbacks' defense doesn't do very well in.
The Blue Devils haven't gotten to the free-throw line often, but I think this is a matchup where they can turn that around. The Razorbacks tend to foul a lot, so the Blue Devils could find themselves in the bonus early.
Despite a tough road environment, I see no reason why Duke can't find ample offensive success. I really like the matchup here for the Blue Devils.
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It's been a rough start to the season for Eric Musselman's Razorbacks. They've lost three of their last four games, and things (obviously) don't get easier in this matchup.
It's also concerning that Tramon Mark was hospitalized after their last game against North Carolina, and he's unlikely to play in this one.
Funky things tend to happen at Bud Walton, but the Razorbacks have some work to do if they want to pull off this upset. Musselman's offenses are known for their quick tempo, but so far, they're 132nd in that category this season.
It's still a fast offense, but I'm intrigued to see if they decide to ramp it up even more in this matchup. The Razorbacks are 38th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, which is encouraging going up against a good offensive team.
If the Hogs want to win this game, they have to continue their trend of getting to the free-throw line. They're 10th in the nation in free-throw attempts per game, but I'd be more encouraged if they were hitting them higher than a 70% clip.
Khalif Battle has been absolutely tremendous to start the year, as he's shooting 43% from beyond the arc. I expect Musselman to focus the offensive game plan around him with Mark likely out.
Defensively, I have a few concerns, but there are a couple of areas that will help slow down this Blue Devils offense. First off, the Razorbacks have been a good team defending inside, which is massive going against Kyle Filipowski and company.
Secondly, they're fourth in the nation in Block%, which tells me they've been ultra-aggressive on the defensive end. They've also crashed the boards extremely well, which will limit second chances for the Duke offense.
I'm frightened about this perimeter defense, but I think the Razorbacks should be able to force the Blue Devils out of their comfort zone with a fast tempo. Mark being unavailable is a big loss, but I think the Hogs can make up for it on the offensive end.
Duke definitely has more talent, but I think this line is a tad too large. I give a huge boost to the Hogs for being home in this spot, especially coming off a rough stretch of games.
I think the Hogs will be able to keep up with Duke defensively, and should eliminate a lot of the Blue Devils' chances on the inside. I expect them to crash the glass hard here, which will eliminate a lot of second chances for the Blue Devils.
It's possible that Duke will ultimately outclass Arkansas and have too much talent to be defeated, but I have an odd suspicion the Hogs will be up for the task.
I'll take my chances with a desperate Hogs team at Bud Walton Arena any day of the week.