It’s postseason time, and with Arkansas’ late season surge, they very well could have earned themselves some more games this year. The NIT looks likely, and the NCAA Tournament is still a ways off but not impossible. Here’s what the Hogs’ resume looks like heading into the SEC Tournament.
Record: 17-14 (8-10)
NET: 64 (as of 3/13)
KenPom: 52 (as of 3/13)
Q1 Record: 1-8 (Wins: at LSU; Losses: vs. Texas, vs. LSU, at Tennessee, at Ole Miss, at Texas Tech, at Auburn, vs. Mississippi State, at Kentucky
Q2 Record: 4-3 (Wins: vs. Indiana, at Texas A&M, vs. Ole Miss, vs. Alabama; Losses: vs. Florida, at South Carolina, at Missouri)
Q3 Record: 8-3 (Wins: vs. UTSA, vs. Texas State, at Colorado State, vs. Austin Peay, vs. Missouri, vs. Georgia, vs. Vanderbilt, at Vanderbilt; Losses: vs. Georgia Tech, vs. Western Kentucky, vs. Texas A&M)
Q4 Record: 4-0 (Wins: vs. UT-Arlington, vs. UC Davis, vs. Montana State, vs. FIU)
Remember that the scale depends on home, neutral, and away. Which is why a couple teams, like Texas A&M can call under both Q2 and Q3.
Right now the lack of Q1 wins are a problem, but one the SEC Tournament can change. Those Georgia Tech and Western Kentucky losses aren’t bringing doom but definitely aren’t good. Four away wins is also a solid number.
Are There NIT Bracketologists?
Mid Major Madness recently came out with one. It has the Hogs as a 6-seed traveling to Dayton. DRatings.com also has an NCAA Tourney/NIT Seed list. This one is much more favorable to the Hogs, giving them a 2-seed and hosting games at Bud Walton Arena. They just have seeds but South Dakota State is the likeliest matchup for a 7-seed in that group.
An important thing to note is the automatic bid process for the NIT. Teams that won their regular season conference title, but lost in the conference tournament and aren’t selected as an NCAA Tournament at-large bid are put in the NIT. So the more conference tournament upsets happen, and there have been plenty so far, the more the NIT bubble shrinks.
What Would Arkansas Need To Do For the NCAA Tournament?
Probably make the finals.
Arkansas isn’t currently on Joe Lundardi’s or Jerry Palm’s immediate radar. Wins over Florida (fellow bubble team) and LSU would certainly grab some attention and would both be Q1 wins, solving the lack of wins in that quadrant issue. But if Arkansas can get a semifinal win, that puts them at 20 wins. Another key would be that it would be most beneficial for the Hogs if that semifinal is against Auburn. The Tigers’ NET ranking is currently at 17, which would be a third Q1 in the Tournament should the Hogs do that. South Carolina is the higher seed but their NET is currently 80, making them a Q2 game on a neutral court.
Arkansas needs to improve the amount of Q1 wins on their resume, making a path of Florida/LSU/possibly Auburn possible for that. With that said it’s still premature to talk about any semifinal matchup with any certainty. Arkansas has proven capable of reaching that mark, but they’ve been inconsistent all year, and need to get past the Gators before any of that talk can get somewhat serious.