Arkansas will have to tangle with a formidable schedule in 2017-18. From the PK80 Tournament to showdowns in Bud Walton against Kentucky and Missouri, there are a lot of games to keep an eye on this year in Razorback basketball. Barring some very unforseen results in other places, Arkansas will likely have a good strength of schedule heading into March. What does that mean for wins this year though?
Obviously the headliner of the non conference slate is the Phil Knight Invitational, where the Razorbacks will face Oklahoma on Thanksgiving Day and may possibly get a rematch with defending national champion North Carolina, who ended their season a year ago.
They will have a third game in that tournament as well, and have home contests with Samford, Bucknell, Fresno State, Colorado State, Minnesota, Troy (in North Little Rock), Oral Roberts and Cal State Bakersfield. There is also a rematch with Oklahoma State in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The Cowboys trounced Arkansas last season, 99-71.
Optimistic: The Hogs find a way to go 12-1 through this, losing only to North Carolina at a neutral site.
Pessimistic: Things take a little while to gel and they drop 2 of 3 in Oregon, along with dropping back-to-back games against Houston and Minnesota for 9-4.
What likely happens: Arkansas finds a way to go 11-2, losing to North Carolina and Houston on the road.
Arkansas opens with Tennessee on December 30, before road tilts with Mississippi State and Auburn. Good chance it is 2-1 after that stretch, then gets LSU and Missouri both in Fayetteville. A goal should be going undefeated at Bud Walton in the league.
Road games at Florida (where Arkansas hasn’t won since 1995), Georgia, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Alabama and Missouri seem fairly daunting. LSU should be a win in Baton Rouge. Splitting those six, and only losing one at home, should lead to a 12-6 finish for the second consecutive year.
That equates to another 23-8 finish, which against this schedule, should earn a very solid seeding slot in the NCAA Tournament.
Optimistic: Hogs go undefeated at home and 5-4 on the road, finishing 14-4 for a 25-6 mark that gets them a 3 seed in the Big Dance.
Pessimistic: Things go tougher than expected and they drop two in BWA, along with only going 3-6 on the road for 10-8.
What likely happens: See above.