What a difference a week makes! After beating South Carolina the Hogs patched up a lot of weaknesses in their NCAA Tournament resume. They have a signature win (on the road!), and have rebuilt their RPI near what it was before the Missouri and Vanderbilt losses. There are still plenty of games to be played, and this team has shown that nothing is a given, but they are in much better shape than a couple games ago.
ESPN: 11 Seed vs. Saint Mary’s in Salt Lake City
CBS Sports: Last 4 In, Play in game vs. Syracuse
USA Today: 10 Seed vs. Minnesota in Orlando
FOX Sports: 10 Seed vs Xavier in Sacramento
First off, I highly doubt the selection committee will put Arkansas against Minnesota, they will try to avoid previous matchups if possible. A matchup against Syracuse would be interesting, they are a very different team from when they came to Bud Walton Arena a couple years ago, but they have experience making a deep tourney run all they way to the Final Four last year. Two starters and two rotation players return from that team.
If the Hogs were to beat Syracuse, CBS also has them playing Saint Mary’s. The Gaels have three losses on the season, twice to Gonzaga and a home loss to a UT-Arlington team Arkansas beat early in the season. This is about as kind of a matchup Arkansas would be able to get against a 6-seed but would still be a tough game. Saint Mary’s is known for being a well coached team, and for their Australian talent, with half of their roster coming from there. They also have a lot of size, with four players coming in at 6-foot-10 or taller.
The Hogs got a huge win this season but they aren’t the only ones with chances to bolster their resume. Here are a few games to watch for this weekend that could have an impact on the bubble surrounding the Hogs.
Villanova at Seton Hall: Seton Hall just got a big win over Creighton and now have a home game against the second ranked team in the country. They are in the last four in at ESPN, and a 10 seed at USA Today. Getting a win over Villanova would likely seal things for them.
Michigan State at Purdue: The Spartans are a 10 seed in all three projections but there are questions about how highly the selection committee thinks of the Big 10. Like Seton Hall, a win here would put them in good shape.
TCU at Iowa State: Iowa State is pretty safely in as a 9 seed in most brackets but TCU is right on the bubble and after this is a brutal stretch playing at Kansas, then home against West Virginia and Kansas State. This might be the Horned Frogs best chance at a good win besides pulling off a monumental upset.
Syracuse at Georgia Tech: This is two teams fighting for their tournament lives getting a chance to knock each other out. They also play each other again on the final day of the regular season. Whoever loses those games could have a tough time finding a way into the tournament.