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PREVIEW: Arkansas takes on one-seed Gonzaga with Elite Eight Bid on the line

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round - Vermont v Arkansas Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

San Fransisco, Cali.— #4 ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS VS #1 GONZAGA BULLDOGS

Date: Saturday, March 24, 2022
Time: 6:09 PM CDT
Place: San Fransisco, Cali.
TV/Streaming: CBS/CBS Sports
All-Time Series: Gonzaga leads 1-0

Arkansas Tournament History:

All-time Record: 47-33

First round record: 18-8

The Bulldogs – 28-3

It’s Sweet 16 time again for Razorback Basketball for the second consecutive season. This time the meet the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament in San Fransisco. The Hogs have their work cut out for them though with the height advantage down low and Gonzaga’s pace of play being the best in all of college basketball.

If you only watch college hoops during March Madness the casual fan would know that the Bulldogs are one of the tallest teams left in the NCAA Tournament. On the flip side the Razorbacks have solid size but don’t matchup well in that category.

Freshman forward, Chet Holmgren (7’0) and sophomore forward, Drew Timme (6’10) are NBA caliber prospects in the post. How will the Razorbacks defend them? There’s reason to believe the Hogs will have a plan for that but we’ll get to that a little later.

Gonzaga shoots the ball well from deep ranking 24th in the country at a 38-percent clip. The Bulldogs haven’t shot it at an elite rate since they only connected on 27-percent against Georgia State and 33-percent against Memphis in the first two rounds of the tournament . Arkansas has endured a defensive lapse at times this season but have done a good job defending there. How the Bulldogs do shooting from three will be a good indicator on who wins this game.

The Bulldogs have given up 75 points per game during the NCAA Tournament compared to the 67 points they give up on average this season. The Razorbacks have struggled to put up points consistently from the field but could this game give Arkansas the opportunity to get on track shooting?

Andrew Nembhard was very good against Memphis when he scored 23 points and was 5-of-10 shooting from deep. He is the true X-factor for the Bulldogs and could be the difference if he can have the same type of game that he had last Saturday.

The Razorbacks – 27-8

Wow. That is there to be said about this Razorback team? To be a Sweet 16 team after the start they had in conference play is almost a miraculous turnaround. The Hogs scored 8 quad-one victories during the regular season so this isn’t there first go around against a juggernaut team.

Musselman has his mama, a lot of family, friends and celebrities coming to see his team play. That should give Razorback fans hope that this team will be more prepared and focused than any team under their head coach.

The Razorbacks will need to get to the free throw line similar to what they find when they faced Auburn in February. Driving the lane will be a focus for this team that will try to get Holmgren and Timme into foul trouble. The Hogs are 42-of-50 from the stripe so there’s obviously an edge there that could keep Arkansas in the ball game due to its lack of shooting efficiency.

Staying out of foul trouble will be a huge key to scoring an upset in the Sweet 16. JD Notae will need to bring his defensive intensity but limit his fouls. He has committed nine personal fouls during the tournament and was disqualified during the New Mexico State game due to a charge. During big games, Notae has stepped up including 28 points against Auburn and 30 points, 8 assists versus Kentucky.

Au’diese Toney will be crucial to his team’s success tonight. Over the last two months of the season he has guarded their opponents best player. With Timme being one of the best players in the country and one that is hard to stop, Toney will likely get the assignment. Can he shutdown the Bulldogs best player?

Gonzaga has shown they are beatable and Musselman has a proven track record of winning huge games in the tournament. This is a monumental game that could catapult him into the talk of “best coach” in the country. Who’s ready?

Prediction: Arkansas 73, Gonzaga 68

Jacob is the managing editor of Arkansas Fight. You can follow him on Twitter @jacobscottdavis and listen to his podcast, The Hawg Talk, on all platforms.