Busting Brackets

Baylor vs. Arkansas: 2021 NCAA Tournament game preview, TV schedule, prediction

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS - JANUARY 09: Head Coach Tom Crean of the Georgia Bulldogs yells to his team during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on January 09, 2021 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Bulldogs 69"u201399. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS - JANUARY 09: Head Coach Tom Crean of the Georgia Bulldogs yells to his team during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on January 09, 2021 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Bulldogs 69"u201399. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Old Southwest Conference foes Baylor and Arkansas collide for a spot in the Final Four.

TV schedule: Monday, March 29th, 9:57 pm ET. (approx) CBS

Arena: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana

Line: (via Oddshark): Baylor (-6)

The last time Baylor and Arkansas collided in a conference game, none of the players on either roster were alive. As part of the Southwest Conference in 1991, the two schools have squared off twice since then, with splitting those contests.

Both teams needed come-from-behind wins to down their Sweet 16 opponent. For Baylor, they were lead behind the tenacious defense and a new way of scoring on offense. Arkansas was able to claw out of the arms of Oral Roberts, with a three-point shot from guard Max Abmas that was inches from going through.

As been the usual over the past five games, the Razorbacks needed a comeback to down the plucky, 15-seeded Golden Eagles. Justin Smith has been the MVP of the tournament so far.

However, it was Jalen Tate that led the way for Arkansas. It wasn’t the prettiest of starts for Arkansas as Oral Roberts was efficient from beyond the arc, while the Razorbacks were playing catch up.

Oral Roberts controlled a majority of the game, creating mismatches and drive and kick opportunities for three-pointers. The Golden Eagles presented the issue of multiple players with long wingspans, which helped them defensively.

Arkansas was able to match the length and kept the Golden Eagles’ lead within arm’s length.

To begin the second half, the offensive intensity on both sides picked up significantly. From that point, it was Devo Davis that cut the tie.

Arkansas says plays a relatively limited lineup, with seven guys getting playing time. Four of the five starters played 35 minutes or more and have length, which is comparable to Villanova.

Moses Moody has been the head of the Razorbacks, as the freshman leads the team in scoring at 17 points per game. JD Notae comes off the bench and has been spark throughout the season. However, he is 7-29 in the tournament up to this point.

Even with trailing in five consecutive games, the Razorbacks have been tested when adversity comes their way and find ways to win big games. Arkansas is playing in their first Elite 8 since 1995.

For Baylor, they survived through a second-half onslaught from the defense. Adam Flagler and Davion Mitchell led the way, with 16 and 14 points apiece. Villanova had averaged just 8.8 turnovers per game, while the Bears forced 16 on Saturday.

The three-point shooting has been the Bears’ best weapon on the season and was erased from the contest. Villanova’s length at the guard position suffocated the Bears perimeter shooting and forced the guards to play a different way.

However, they adjusted in the second half, with an abundance of points off of turnovers and in the paint. When other teams set up pick and rolls, normally the Bears guards go over the roll, to limit the perimeter shot. The Bears were 23-40 from inside the two-point arc, with 15 of them coming in the second half.

Oral Roberts went under and gave space for the shooter to have an uncontested shot. With the guards and their play on defense for Baylor, I expect they stay home and limit the opportunities, the same they did to Villanova.

The play of the frontcourt has been underwhelming, but possesses good lob opportunities, offensive rebounds, and gets an energy burst from Mark Vital.

For Arkansas, their roster has a similar build to Villanova, with lengthy guards. Regardless of poor offense, Caleb Daniels was apart of the group that forced Baylor to miss a plethora of three-pointers.

Arkansas brings up similar issues, with wide, rangy, guards, led by Jalen Tate and Moses Moody.  Both of them stand at 6’6 and are expected to be covering Jared Butler and MaCio Teague. Butler has struggled in this tournament and Teague had just five points in the Sweet 16 victory.

The Razorbacks do a great job of using their length as they rank in the top 50 in steals and 17th in the country in blocks. Arkansas seemed to be a step or two slower at times against Oral Roberts but can abuse the length they possess.

A key for the Bears will be how they can win in a new way. When Oral Roberts three-pointers weren’t falling, they focused on designed plays to get high percentage shots in the paint, whether that be with Carlos Jurgens or Kevin Obanor.

Baylor proved they can change their style of play to win and Arkansas did not defend the Golden Eagles very well. It is also expected that Baylor will get a better shooting performance from their guards on Saturday.

Historically, veteran-led teams tend to play much better against the youth. Fortunately for Baylor, their experience looks to be significantly better. Three of Arkansas’s five starters are freshman and at times, have played the part. The Razorbacks have had offensive droughts that they have been able to overcome so far in the tournament. However, the highest seed they have played up to this point is a 6-seed.

The Bears are battle-tested and have been able to play, with the long ball, and using the speed of their guards and craftiness to score near the rim.

Both teams have had magical seasons of their own. Eric Musselman has transformed Arkansas into a premiere destination in the SEC and looks to keep building. For Scott Drew, a win would bump Baylor into unfamiliar territory with a Final Four berth. The first for the Bears, since 1950.

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Both teams can play gritty and dig deep to find ways to win. I believe Baylor has the more overall talent and defense to overcome Arkansas.

Prediction: No. 1 Baylor 75, No. 3 Arkansas 68