Ask any Razorback basketball fan what the best teams in Arkansas history were and they'll immediately rattle off the 1994, 1978 and the 1990 squads (suprisingly, the 2009 team is rarely mentioned). Obviously there's nothing wrong with any of those choices, but here's the official Arkansas Expats nomination for the 4th group to be added to the Mt. Rushmore of Hog hoops:
Although their lack of a Final Four berth has caused their memory to fade a bit (except among nerdy old-timers like the Arkansas Expats staff), this was a damn good team. Think about it: they featured arguably the best backcourt in Razorback history with Alvin Robertson and Darrell Walker, Arkansas' best center in Joe Kleine (granted, he was the prototypical hulking, slow white guy in the pros, but in college he was amazing), a classic do-it-all player in Charles Balentine, and enough overall talent that they even had two high school All-Americans coming off the bench (Ricky Norton and Willie Cutts).
The '83 Hogs won 26 games and lost only 4 times (twice to the insanely good Phi Slamma Jamma-era Houston Cougars and once each to TCU and Final Four-bound Louisville on last-second shots). At one point they were ranked as high as #4 and finished the year at #9. No less of an authority than the dean of Arkansas sportswriting, ArkansasSports 360 editor Jim Harris, referred to them as "probably Eddie Sutton’s best overall team" in a Q&A he did with us back in 2008.
Their two-point loss to Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen was a classic Razorback heartbreaker, complete with a few iffy calls and a crazy finish. For more details on how that went down, read the Jim Harris interview referenced above (you'll have to scroll down to the end).
So, as you're enjoying the summer weekend, raise a glass to the 1982-83 Hogs. Their era may be fading into the mists of history, but they certainly deserve the salute.