After beating Georgia, the Hogs now have 20 wins, clinched a .500 SEC record, and claimed their eighth RPI top-100 victory of the season.
Arkansas was was placed on the good side of the bubble after beating Kentucky, and now that they’ve disposed of Georgia, one thing is becoming clear. It’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write this year, and, frankly, sometimes it seemed I never would:
The Razorbacks are playing for seeding.
I know. It’s a great feeling. This is not to say that the Hogs could still miss the NCAA Tournament if they lose these last games. I don’t think anybody should feel too comfortable yet. Ole Miss has been playing so badly I’m not sure Arkansas could afford to lose to the Rebels in Fayetteville. But it’s clear that if the Razorbacks continue winning, they’ll be dancing.
The most recent projections, released after the games were played on Saturday, had the Hogs in as an 11-seed. Joe Lunardi hasn’t released a full bracket (that will likely come on Monday) but he tweeted that he has Arkansas as his #44 team:
28-Vcu; 29-Smu, 30-Mem, 31-AzSt, 32-KSt; 33-Zaga, 34-Gw, 35-Pitt, 36-Stan; 37-Xav, 38-Col, 39-StJoe, 40-Cal; 41-Byu, 42-Bay, 43-OkSt, 44-Ark
— Joe Lunardi (@ESPNLunardi) March 2, 2014
He has three more at-large teams behind Arkansas, so theoretically, he has the Razorbacks headed to Dayton for the dreaded "First Round" and I’ll have to eat my words about the Dayton games not really being the NCAA Tournament.
Jerry Palm updated his bracket after Saturday’s games and has Arkansas avoiding Dayton to play as an 11-seed vs Memphis (!) in the "Second" Round in Milwaukee. I’m sure Mardracus Wade and Anthlon Bell would be up for that. And Josh Pastner would be pissy, so I’m all for it. The winner of that game would play the Michigan/Boston U winner.
USA Today has the Razorbacks as a 10-seed in Buffalo taking on the winner of Villanova/Boston U.
What’s clear right now is that Arkansas:
- Keep winning to stay in the Tournament
- Keep winning to avoid Dayton
- Keep winning to improve seeding
How high of a seed could Arkansas get? That’s hard to say. So much revolves around what happens to other teams around the country. Hope for some of those teams ahead of Arkansas on Lunardi’s list to lose. An 11-seed isn’t a bad place because you get to avoid the 1- and 2-seeds in the second round (assuming of course you win the first game).
The SEC Tournament seeding is starting to shape up. Nothing new is clinched for Arkansas. The Hogs are still mathematically eligible for anything from the #2 spot to the #9 spot. I still think the most likely scenario is Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee battling for the #3, #4, and #5 places. Kentucky just needs one win to clinch the #2 spot (but after losing to South Carolina, would anything shock you?)
Tennessee owns a tiebreaker over both teams, and Arkansas owns a tiebreaker over Georgia, so the Hogs would get the 4-seed. If Arkansas wins both of their last two games, they could still be in a three-way tie with the Vols and Bulldogs. A loss to Ole Miss, however, throws Arkansas back into the middle of the pack with the four 8-8 teams where anything could happen.
There’s still so much to play for this last week of the season.