Arkansas Earns Top 3 Seed
Given the excitement around the Arkansas program, Hog fans have been scouring the internet for just about every bracket prediction you could find over the last month. From tweeting Joe Lunardi expressing disgust and disagreement to praising “BracketvilleDave” for his love of the Hogs. It’s been a wild ride for these fans.
Younger followers of the program like myself have never seen this kind of success in the Arkansas Basketball Program. I’ll age myself….I was born in 1994. Just a few months after Arkansas had reached Hog Heaven as National Champions. My earliest memories of Arkansas basketball are of Brandon Dean dunking every time he touched the ball.
We’ve obviously had some good memories over the years like a Bobby Portis led team winning 27 games and earning a 5 seed in the NCAAT. But that has been the best I have ever experienced.
It’s weird to even be writing an article like this. Arkansas? A 3 seed? My team? It’s surreal.
Date: Friday, March 19
Time: 11:45AM CDT
Arkansas has the 2nd game of the 1st round. There will be a lot of eyes on the Hogs on Friday.
Place: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Bankers Life Fieldhouse is home to the Indiana Pacers. It is one of the coolest arenas in the NBA.
How To Watch?
Streaming: NCAA March Madness App
Colgate Raiders 14-1
Colgate earns their way to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Patriot League Tournament. The Raiders did not take part in non-conference play and played just 6 teams the entire season. Yet, they took care of business in their limited opportunities and posted a 14-1 record.
Colgate opened the season with a 101-57 win to Army then the very next day lost to the Knights by 2 for their lone loss. Due to no out of league games, the Patriot League scheduled teams to plat each other as many as 4 times in a row. That gives some NBA Playoffs vibes.
This team can really score the basketball. 86.3 points per game is what they are averaging this season. That ranks 2nd in the nation.
Where their biggest strength lies is in 3-point shooting. As a team, the Raiders are shooting 40.2% from beyond the arc. That’s a ridiculous number! They also take care of the basketball committing just 10.0 turnovers a game.
Colgate plays smart basketball and the 3 leading scorers are seniors. It’s an experienced squad. Their players have a solid IQ, but they truly lack athleticism. Playing in Patriot League games only this season has not exposed them to the giants of college basketball in the Power 5. For Colgate, I fear the size and athleticism of Arkansas will be intimidating. Their opponents combined record is 35-49. Army is the only opponent that finished with an above .500 record all season. They just haven’t played anyone of significance.
Projected Colgate Starting Lineup:
G – Jordan Burns – 6-0
G – Nelly Cummings – 6-0
G – Tucker Richardson – 6-5
F – Ryan Moffatt – 6-6
F – Keegan Records – 6-10
Colgate uses their bench. 10 players get minutes in every game.
The Raiders are led by Jordan Burns. He is one of the best players in Colgate’s history. He’s averaging 17.0 points and is the all-time leading assists man at Colgate. He makes everything go for this team.
Jack Ferguson is a 6-3 sharpshooting guard that comes off the bench to average 12.6 points per game. He’s shooting an incredible 51.5% from 3 this year.
Nelly Cummings is a 6-0 guard shooting 58.0% from 2 while averaging double figures. That’s a high number for a 6-0 guard.
The intriguing matchup in this game will be the Colgate bigs against Jaylin Williams, Justin Smith, and Connor Vanover. Can they hold their own and defend? Can the Arkansas frontcourt rebound against them?
6-10 and 245 Keegan Records is averaging 9.3 points and 6.9 rebounds a game with 1.2 blocks. He is a back to the basket player, but is a big body to handle for the Arkansas frontcourt. 6-11 and 265 Jeff Woodward comes off the bench in relief of Records. Colgate rarely plays without one of them on the floor.
Neither big is very skilled, but they definitely have the size to battle Arkansas. The Hogs will do everything they can to spread the floor and get them into open space.
It will be interesting to see Colgate runs a zone or man. The athleticism of Arkansas will cause issues if they employ a man to man. If they play zone, the Arkansas shooters will get plenty of opportunities from 3.
Colgate brings offensive firepower, but they will have their hands full defensively.
Arkansas Razorbacks 22-6
Arkansas is coming off a loss for the first time since late January. Losing had a weird feeling last Saturday. I had almost forgotten what it felt like.
The SEC Tournament obviously didn’t end the way we wanted, but I think it was good for the Hogs. That feeling of a loss should fire them up coming into this weekend.
Head Coach Eric Musselman has been vocal with the team that upsets happen every year. This team will be ready.
Based on matchup, I expect Jalen Tate and JD Notae to have great games. Tate’s length against the small Colgate guards should afford him plenty of scoring chances. Notae’s ability to get by every defender will be key on Friday.
The 2 Arkansas players I am the most excited to watch are Connor Vanover and Jaylin Williams. Vanover was great in non-conference play against weaker opponents. I am interested to see how he fares against the big men Colgate has. I think Connor can have a great game stretching the floor against those bigs. Williams will be playing for the first time since the LSU win in Bud Walton Arena because of COVID protocols. I’m curious to see what kind of shape he is in and if he is playing with the same confidence he had late in SEC play.
Arkansas keys to victory:
-Use Your Athleticism. Don’t settle for contested jumpers because you are taller than your defender. Get to the basket and draw fouls or pass to the wide open shooters.
-Rebound. Records and Woodward are strong bodies so Arkansas cannot give them 2nd chances at the rim.
-Ball Security. Colgate has a low turnover rate so you cannot lose the turnover battle by a wide margin.
-Take Care of Business. Arkansas has won every game they should all year. Zero bad losses for this team. No reason to start that now.
The Raiders have been a trendy upset pick by “experts” out there, but Arkansas is truly a nightmare matchup for them. Seth Davis, LaPhonso Ellis, and Dan Wolken have either picked Colgate to win or as a high potential upset team. I just don’t agree.
In 2015, I was scared to death Arkansas would lose to Wofford in the 1st round. The Terriers lost by just 2 to the Razorbacks. I do not feel that way about this matchup. Athletically, Arkansas is a total mismatch for the Raiders. Colgate hasn’t played anyone good all season. Arkansas should win and win handily.
Arkansas 88 Colgate 72
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