Right now Arkansas sits at 16-5 with 10 regular season games to go - plus the SEC Tournament - and an RPI of 28 (According to the NCAA’s website.) If you offered that situation to me at the beginning of the year I would take it with no questions asked. Right now Arkansas has done what they have needed to do as far as getting into the NCAA Tournament discussion, but haven’t made any big waves. We’ll start taking a look at where the Hogs stand in the eyes of the experts and what Arkansas needs to do to make the tournament. First a look at the resume.
- Record: 16-5 (5-3)
- RPI: 28
- SOS: 51 (from CBS Sports)
- Record vs RPI Top 50: 1-4
- Best Win: at Tennessee
- Worst Loss: vs. Mississippi State
Arkansas’ resume is solid but not flashy. Mississippi State is the only loss outside of the RPI top-50, but Tennessee is the only win inside it. Thanks to Tennessee’s recent surge, which included an upset of Kentucky, that win is looking more impressive as the season goes on. Arkansas still has road games against Florida and South Carolina. Georgia could potentially turn into a top-50 matchup, and it would help if UT-Arlington (currently at 51) and Vanderbilt (currently at 60) could win some games and climb into the top-50.
So where does Arkansas stand right now? Here are what a few major projections have released on Monday.
- Joe Lunardi/ESPN: 9 Seed vs. Marquette in Tulsa (Hogs in Tulsa WOOO!)
- Jerry Palm/CBS Sports: 10 Seed vs. Virginia Tech in Salt Lake City
- USA Today: 10 Seed vs. Xavier in Greenville
As it stands most places have Arkansas securely in as a 9 or 10 seed. Jerry Palm dropped Arkansas a seed after losing to Oklahoma State, Lunardi kept the Hogs in the same spot. An interesting note is that game helped the Cowboys a lot more than it hurt the Razorbacks, so don’t panic about this weekend’s loss as ugly as it was. All three of these projections moved Oklahoma State into their “Last Four In.”
Lunardi has the Hogs playing Marquette in Tulsa, the winner would almost certainly play Kansas in the next round. From a travel perspective this is ideal for Hog fans. The game in Tulsa would be as close to a home atmosphere as Arkansas could get. Marquette is a team that is really coming on strong in the past few weeks, including an upset at home over Villanova. Arkansas could struggle to guard the three point line, but the Moses Kingsley/Luke Fischer matchup would be very entertaining to watch.
A matchup against Virginia Tech would be the most favorable of the three for the Hogs personally. The Hokies don’t go very deep on their bench. Six players average over 25 minutes per game and no others are over 15. Plus there would be a fun little bit of revenge Arkansas fans could look to for the Belk Bowl loss. Their resume is a lot like the Hogs, win the games you’re supposed to and avoid bad losses. They do have an upset over Duke but that is looking less and less impressive as they keep losing. Their worst loss this year was on a neutral court to Texas A&M.
USA Today’s matchup might be the hardest to predict for the Hogs. Their leading scorer Trevon Bluiett is very streaky and can go 9-12 from three (like he did against Cincinnati) or he can go 0-6 (like against Missouri). They have some impressive performances this year like almost taking down Butler on the road, but also went to overtime in that previously mentioned Missouri game.