Man, they grow up so fast.
The promising youth of the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils is more encouraging with every clutch shot, putting the program just one win away from a spot in the national semifinals. Standing in their way are the No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks, who sent the top seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs home to punch their tickets to March Madness' Elite Eight.
Sportsbooks are impressed with the Blue Devils’ Coach K farewell tour, listing them as betting favorites for Saturday’s showdown in San Francisco.
Here are our free March Madness picks and predictions for Arkansas vs. Duke on March 26.
Arkansas vs Duke odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
Duke hit the board as a 4-point favorite and dipped to -3.5 at some books. The total opened as high as 148 points and is now down to 147.
Arkansas vs Duke predictions
- Prediction: Duke -3.5 (-118)
- Prediction: Under 147 (-110)
- Best bet: Williams Over 11.5 points (+102)
Predictions made on 3/25/2022 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Arkansas vs Duke game info
• Location: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
• Date: Saturday, March 26, 2022
• Tip-off: 8:49 p.m. ET
• TV: TBS
Arkansas vs Duke betting preview
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Betting trend to know
The Under is 7-2 in Razorbacks’ last nine NCAA Tournament games. Find more NCAA betting trends for Arkansas vs. Duke.
Arkansas vs Duke picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
The past two NCAA Tournament tilts have been a maturation by fire for the young Blue Devils, taking down Michigan State and Texas Tech en route to the Elite Eight.
Duke has some bad habits on offense — like sudden scoring droughts and careless turnovers — which reared their head in both of those contests. However, the Blue Devils didn’t get rattled by those sloppy stints and made clutch shot after clutch shot in the dwindling minutes of those last two victories.
Arkansas presents another strong defensive test for this Duke team, boasting an ultra-stingy defensive efficiency rating of 0.852 during the Big Dance. The Razorbacks just checked the most potent scoring attack in the country to just 68 points (the third-lowest output from Gonzaga all season), but finds itself in step with an energetic Duke squad that can counter the Hogs' athleticism – unlike Arkansas’ last three foes.
Not to take away from the Razorbacks' efforts, but the Zags let Arkansas off the hook in the second half of Thursday’s Sweet 16 game. Gonzaga had the Hogs deep into foul trouble and Drew Timme was getting clean looks inside against an overmatch Arkansas interior but found himself missing layups around the rim.
The difference between the Bulldogs and Blue Devils is that when Duke’s big men get that deep into the paint, you’re getting dunked on. Duke was able to lean on the length and athleticism of 7-footer Mark Williams and 6-foot-10 forward Paolo Banchero versus TTU. Coach K’s kids shot 60% from 2-point range and got key scores and energizing buckets from those bigs versus a defense that ranked No. 1 in the all-mighty adjusted defensive efficiency metric at KenPom.com.
Much will be made of the contrast in age and experience between these teams Saturday, with Arkansas boasting plenty of upperclassmen from a program that made the Elite Eight last year. But we’ve witnessed the Blue Devils grow by leaps and bounds the past two weeks, and experience won’t trump Duke's pro-ready talent at this stage.
Prediction: Duke -3.5 (-118)
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The Razorbacks haven’t blown the doors off any of their opponents in the NCAA Tournament, despite one of the quickest transition attacks in the country. Arkansas has an effective field goal percentage of just 42.2% during the Big Dance and its offensive efficiency has dipped from 1.027 on the season to just 0.921 in the past three games.
While the Hogs have faced some solid defensive clubs, Duke ranks 47th in adjusted defensive efficiency, but more importantly, can keep pace with the athletic Razorbacks on both ends of the floor. The Blue Devils were getting outpaced by Texas Tech in transition on Thursday and made the move to a zone defense in the second half, which really turned the tide down the stretch.
The zone utilized Duke’s size advantage inside and pushed TTU to the perimeter, where the Blue Devils' athletic guards played great on-the-ball defense and forced the Red Raiders deep into the shot clock and settling for many bad looks from greater distance.
Arkansas is not a great halfcourt team and needs to get inside the paint to generate its points: either scoring at the rim, kicking out to a shooter, or getting to the foul line. The Razorbacks’ speed burned Gonzaga’s guards on Thursday, allowing them to crack the Bulldogs interior, but that won’t be an advantage against the fleet-footed Blue Devils this weekend.
With the Hogs heaving a dismal 27.4% from 3-point range during the tournament (and shooting just 30.4% from deep on the season – 316th in the land), Arkansas will be out of options on offense if it can’t out-run Duke.
Prediction: Under 147 (-110)
The Razorbacks were able to get past a bigger Gonzaga squad in the Sweet 16. A mix of foul trouble (on some soft calls) from Chet Holmgren and bad misses (and missed foul calls) from Timme let Arkansas’ interior off the hook down the stretch.
The Bulldogs were constantly able to get high percentage looks right at the rim but just couldn’t cash in. Duke will take that same approach on Saturday, going after an Arkansas frontcourt that doesn’t boast much size behind 6-foot-10 center Jaylen Williams.
Sophomore 7-footer Mark Williams has been outstanding for Duke during March Madness, posting scores of 16, 15, and 15 points in three tournament games. On top of alley-oops and putbacks on the offensive glass, Williams has done a good job getting to the foul line and making those freebies, shooting 8 for 9 from the stripe including a 4-for-4 night versus TTU.
The 7-foot Holmgren was doing serious damage against the Hogs before he fouled out Thursday night, scoring 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting along with 14 rebounds (three offensive) in just 23 minutes of action.
Early scoring prop odds have Williams’ point total set at a modest 11.5 points and even better, the Over is paying +102.
Pick: Mark Williams Over 11.5 points (+102)