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TAMPA, FLORIDA - MARCH 11: JD Notae #1 of the Arkansas Razorbacks shoots the ball against the LSU Tigers during the quarterfinals of the 2022 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Amalie Arena on March 11, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by ANDY LYONS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Betting value lies with the contrarian underdog in this West Region semifinal. Let's dive in with our Arkansas-Gonzaga picks.

The second week of the NCAA Tournament tips off Thursday evening with a West Region matchup. The No. 1 overall seed will help kick-start the Sweet 16, as the Gonzaga Bulldogs face off with the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The No. 4-seeded Arkansas (20-15 against the spread, 21-14 Over/Under) may have survived the first weekend of March Madness, but nothing came easy. After prevailing narrowly against Vermont in the first round, the Razorbacks took care of another mid-major foe in New Mexico State on Saturday night. The combined margin of victory over two double-digit seeds was only nine points. Nonetheless, the Hogs are back in the Sweet 16 for the second straight year.

Top-seeded Gonzaga (15-14-2 ATS, 14-17 O/U) also received more than it bargained for during the opening weekend of the tourney. The Bulldogs were able to turn a slim two-point halftime lead over No. 16 Georgia State into a 21-point romp. The West Coast Conference champs then faced a 10-point deficit against No. 9 Memphis during the second round. Gonzaga turned it on again after the break while squeaking out a four-point victory.

Here are my Arkansas-Gonzaga picks and predictions for Thursday's March Madness Sweet 16 matchup (odds via FanDuel Sportsbook; Pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Arkansas vs. Gonzaga Game Info

Date: Thursday, March 23, 7:09 p.m. ESTTV: CBSLocation: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA

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Arkansas vs. Gonzaga Odds Analysis

Line movement has been limited thus far. Early spread action is leaning toward the Bulldogs. However, there are still fewer sportsbooks that have adjusted from an opening spread of Gonzaga -9 to -9.5 than those holding firm.

Meanwhile, the majority of shops have shifted the total for this matchup. The initial Over/Under was set at 154.5. Now an even 155 is widely available.

The public ticket count for spread bets is fairly even early in the week. In total, 57% of spread tickets are backing Gonzaga, while 43% are on Arkansas.

The ticket count for the total is much more lopsided, with 73% siding with the Over.

SEE ALSO: March Madness Sweet 16 Bold Predictions

Arkansas vs. Gonzaga Picks

Arkansas +9.5 (-110) ???Over 155 (-110) ??

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Arkansas vs. Gonzaga ATS Pick

Arkansas +9.5 (-110)

There's been widespread parity across the country during the 2021-22 college basketball season. And the gap between Arkansas and Gonzaga isn't as large as the 9.5-point spread suggests.

The Razorbacks came into the tournament with momentum. Aside from an ugly loss to Texas A&M during the SEC Tournament, Eric Musselman’s crew had been playing some of its best basketball. While the SEC was a massive disappointment during the first weekend of the Big Dance, Arkansas has managed to find its way back to the Sweet 16.

The Razorbacks boast plenty of experience. Their starting backcourt is comprised of seniors who were fixtures during the team's run to the Elite Eight in 2021. Most notably, JD Notae leads the Hogs in scoring, assists, and steals per game.

However, Arkansas will be giving up size inside. The Razorbacks lack frontcourt depth aside from leading rebounder Jaylin Williams. Musselman will likely use a committee approach when it comes to defending Gonzaga bigs Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren.

But that limited frontcourt depth hasn't been impacting Arkansas defensively. The Hogs ceded size to many SEC opponents, but they still ranked 14th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.

The Razorbacks are also comfortable engaging in a track meet. Speeding up the game could benefit Arkansas on Thursday as the school tries to limit the production of Gonzaga's bigs.

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Arkansas vs. Gonzaga Over/Under Pick

Over 155 (-110)

The total is set high for this March Madness matchup, and for good reason.

There's been a thought that Gonzaga can win with its defense, but that didn't materialize during the first weekend of the tournament. The Zags deserve some credit for clamping down on Memphis in the second half, but they still surrendered 78 points.

Meanwhile, bettors should largely disregard Arkansas' incredibly low-scoring second-round win over New Mexico State. That game was a turnover-filled slop fest. The Hogs’ win over Vermont featured 146 points, which is much more in line with the team's usual pace and style.

Few teams averaged a faster pace in 2021-22 than Arkansas and Gonzaga. The Razorbacks rank 28th in the country in adjusted tempo with an average of 70.7 possessions per 40 minutes, according to KenPom. The Bulldogs are even faster at 72.4 possessions, ranking sixth in Division I.

Gonzaga is also the nation's most efficient team after averaging 122.1 points per 100 possessions in 2021-22. Following an ugly first-half showing against Memphis, the Bulldogs showed how explosive they can be on offense over the final 20 minutes to complete the comeback win.

Although Arkansas may prefer to speed the game up while trying to force Gonzaga’s star bigs out of the play, both Timme and Holmgren can get up and down the floor. Furthermore, with Florida transfer Andrew Nembhard leading the Zags’ backcourt, the unit is more than capable of playing an up-tempo style.

The market has already moved this total up a half point. Expect it to shift even higher before tipoff.

SEE ALSO: March Madness Sweet 16 Expert Picks

Where to Bet on March Madness

Here are our top-rated sportsbooks:

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Arkansas-Gonzaga picks made 3/22/2022 at 12:07 p.m. ET.