Despite losing at home to Missouri, falling to a 2-5 SEC record, and being written off by fans and journalists alike, Joe Lunardi still is giving the Razorbacks a fighting chance to make the NCAA Tournament. And not just by winning the SEC Tournament, but as an at-large team.
Arkansas is currently #2 in his "Next Four Out" list, meaning the Hogs are alive for a berth, even if it feels those chances are on life support and "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" is playing.
The reasons are the same we reported last week. Despite the national narrative, the SEC isn't gawd-awful. It's improved to mediocre. Not having any SEC teams with RPIs over 200 helps Arkansas' RPI. The Razorbacks haven't lost to any teams with RPIs over 150, and Arkansas does have a few good wins on its resume.
However, at some point, Arkansas will actually need to win some more games, and three of the next four are on the road. All four games are against teams whose RPI is between 42-83, so no gimmies.
Very simply, if the Hogs want to get this season back on track, it must start right now. Flip the calendar over to February and hope it washes away the stink from January. Lose all three upcoming road games and Arkansas will be 3-8 - if they beat Alabama in Fayetteville. The program needs wins, and they need them now.
Lose all these games, and Mike Anderson will be best off talking about the football team's spring quarterback battle, because he'll want to change the topic as quickly as possible.
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