Following a convincing 96-68 first-round win over 16th-seeded Howard, the reigning National Champions Kansas Jayhawks (-3.5) look to advance to the second weekend. Arkansas advanced to the Round of 32 for a third consecutive year after dispatching ninth-seeded Illinois with ease 73-63.
Kansas’ 28-point win on Thursday featured 1.26 points per possession on 52.1 per cent shooting from the field, as they scored high-percentage scoring looks before Howard could set up for their defense – something they’ll need to do against a formidable Razorbacks defense on Saturday. Furthermore, Coach Bill Self is hoping to return to action after missing Thursday’s first-round game due to heart catheterization.
Arkansas’ 10-point victory against Illinois may not have been the most impressive, but Eric Musselman’s squad still managed to survive and advance. Although they shot just 38.1 per cent from the field, they committed six fewer turnovers than Illinois, giving them more scoring chances, ultimately leading to a first-round victory.
The Kansas defense allows just under 42% from the field, with just six teams able to get there.
Kansas doesn’t get to the free throw line in bunches, but it’s physical on the inside and can force its way to free points.
Arkansas loves to get on the move, and it wouldn’t mind making this an up-and-down battle to bring its depth into the game – but Kansas, even with its short bench – loves to run and is among the best in the nation at getting the offense in transition.
The defense is solid and occasionally sensational at coming up with takeaways and forcing mistakes. Again, Arkansas will give up the ball – at least 14 turnovers should be forced in this.
Arkansas took control of the game early in its 73-63 victory against Illinois and didn’t have to endure too much pressure along the way.
The defense prevented that from occurring.
The Illini couldn’t connect on three, while the Hogs were dominant on the offensive boards, and there weren’t many errors made.
Now they must almost achieve perfection against Kansas to advance.
The Jayhawks are in great shape, but head coach Bill Self will likely miss some action due to a medical procedure on his heart.
They put up 96 points in the first round scrimmage against Howard, but now they must deal with an athletic Hog team that jumps all over the place inside and is adept at guarding the three.
Arkansas is 9-0 when making 52% or more field goals and 18-4 when hitting 45% or more.
These two teams have not played this season.
Arkansas displayed more confidence against Illinois than it had shown at the end of the regular season, and it has no intention to cower against a formidable Kansas team.
However, the process will be methodical.
After the emotional rollercoaster of the Big 12 Tournament, the team needed fresh air with this first-round win. The scoring won’t stop, but rebounding will take center stage.
Arkansas may experience some impressive scoring runs, but Kansas’ offense will remain steady – helped by their stellar defense on the defensive glass to create transition points – and won’t let up.
Kansas is 0-5 when scoring less than 62 points and only lost twice when it scored more. Don’t expect them to be held to under 62!
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