Arkansas will face: The winner of the Auburn/South Carolina game.
I'd kind of been expecting South Carolina to win this game, but then Auburn coach Tony Barbee tweeted this last night.
That's a picture of the famous LSU/Auburn football game in which Auburn's old basketball arena caught fire in the middle of the game. Yes, Auburn's basketball coach sent a late-night tweet about an Auburn basketball arena catching a huge fire. Some coaches use Twitter to promote big wins, accomplishments, players in the pros, etc. Auburn coach Tony Barbee used it to remember Auburn basketball literally burning down.
So I'm expecting South Carolina to win today. Unless Frank Martin gets suspended for cussing again.
The Gamecocks played Arkansas much tougher in Fayetteville than Auburn did. The Razorbacks will certainly be the favorites, but Brenton Williams has proven he can kill you if you don't keep him in check. He just fell short of bringing South Carolina all the way back in their upset bid over Arkansas.
It's a game Arkansas absolutely needs to win to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. If they do...
Arkansas will face: Tennessee
The Vols are arguably the hottest team in the SEC not named Florida after winning their last three SEC games by an average of 31 points against Vanderbilt, Auburn, and Missouri.
It's possible that this is a de facto play-in game for the NCAA Tournament. Both of these two teams are on most people's "Last Four In" list, and any loss in that situation is obviously potentially fatal. A lot will depend on what happens to other bubble teams around the country (Thanks for beating BYU last night, Gonzaga!).
The first game these two played in Knoxville was a lot of fun. Both teams played very well. It was tight throughout until Tennessee began pulling away following a questionable intentional foul called on Kikko Haydar killed all of Arkansas' momentum. Hog fans remember this game mostly for Tennessee's 38 free throw attempts to Arkansas' 17, while we like to forget Jordan McRae going off for 34 points.
Big question: after a near-week layoff, is this going to be the same Vols team that was destroying people the last few weeks, or the one that lost to Texas A&M and Missouri before that? Of course, similar questions could be asked for Arkansas.
But if the Hogs win...
Arkansas will face: Almost definitely Florida. Possibly Missouri. Texas A&M if the universe is ending.
The Razorbacks absolutely do not want to play Missouri here because if that happens that means the Tigers beat Florida and possibly earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. It may be yet another play-in game.
But Florida is the heavy favorite, and it would be a nothing-to-lose, everything-to-win type of situation for Arkansas. It's a win that would likely keep Arkansas from having to go to Dayton. But losing to the Gators probably wouldn't hurt, either. Just playing them again on a neutral floor should help Arkansas' strength of schedule, which will help their RPI.
It's important to remember the Gators Arkansas faced in January were not at full-strength. Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young didn't start and some didn't play. It would take a lights-out performance from the Razorbacks to win, which is something we do know they're capable of.
And if they do....
Arkansas will face: Could be almost anybody, but Kentucky and Georgia seem most likely. LSU, Ole Miss, or Alabama could make things interesting.
If the Hogs get this far then making the NCAA Tournament shouldn't be an issue, but if they face anybody other than Kentucky, they will be playing somebody trying to clinch a spot in the field, and that can be deadly.
Isn't it crazy that Arkansas has only won this tournament once? And that one time wasn't even in the '90s? That's always baffled me, and one reason I always want the Razorbacks to do well here.
It's a big one this year.
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