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Non-Conference Schedule Breakdown

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Arkansas at Baylor Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas Men’s Basketball Releases Non-Conference Schedule

On Monday morning, graphics and funny videos began being released by the Arkansas media team on social media accounts across multiple platforms. The content of such graphics and videos was the release of the non-conference schedule!

In today’s world, it is hard to keep anything secret. As a result, we knew 11 of the 13 games before the release. Now the full non-conference schedule is public and it’s time we break it down!

Last season, fans were unhappy with how the schedule turned out during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet Eric Musselman had made it clear in press conference that they were going to schedule teams that could bus to Fayetteville so they could avoid airports. Still…many fans could not understand that. You just can’t help some people. They were few, but they were noisy. Arkansas had a very successful season and none of those concerns really mattered.

Now a year later, we look to have a more normal season of college basketball. As a result, we see some great games on this Arkansas schedule!

Nov. 9 – Mercer

The Mercer Bears beat Arkansas during the 2015-16 season. It was the worst season of the Mike Anderson era and Mercer came out on top in overtime. It is the only loss in the series for Arkansas which stands at 5-1.

Mercer and 2nd year Head Coach Greg Gary are coming off an 18-11 campaign.

Nov. 13 – Gardner-Webb

This will be just the 2nd meeting between the schools with that the only previous matchup coming in 2003 when Arkansas won by 16.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 11-15 season, but a 10-10 record within their conference. They return a lot of experience and production.

Nov. 17 – Northern Iowa

This will be the first meeting between Arkansas and Northern Iowa. The Panthers have made some noise in CBB in recent years including earning a 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament just 7 seasons.

UNI went 10-15 last year after winning 25 games in 2019-20.

Nov. 22 – Kansas St. (Kansas City, MO) – Hall of Fame Classic

The first of 4 non-conference high major matchups for Arkansas this season.

KSU is a program that has been down for the last 2 years after a good run with Bruce Weber. Now he is looking for a rebound season. The Wildcats have won just 20 games total in the last 2 seasons, but they have added and return some talent this year. They should be much improved.

The teams have met 11 times previously. With 9 of the matchups all happenings before 1982. KSU leads the series 8-3.

Nov. 23 – Cincinnati or Illinois (Kansas City, MO) – Hall of Fame Classic

The 2nd game in the Hall of Fame Classic will either be Cincinnati or Illinois. For resumé purposes, Arkansas fans should hope to play Illinois in this one. The Fighting Illini should be very good this season. The reigning Big 10 champs have solidified their program and look to be good for years to come.

The teams have met 5 times total and 4 times during the Stan Heath era. In each of those matchups in the early 2000s, Illinois was ranked and Arkansas was not. Despite some close games, The Fighting Illini won every game and lead the all-time series 5-0.

If Arkansas draws Cincinnati, it will be the 5th matchup all time and the first since 1997. The Bearcats have been ranked in all of the previous matchups and lead the series 3-1.

Nov. 28 – Penn

Another first for both programs. I really like this game. How often do we see Arkansas play an Ivy League school? Well…very rarely. This will be just the 3rd time in Arkansas basketball history.

Steve Donahue has done a great job with the Penn program. He has 3 straight winning seasons and a NCAA Tournament appearance. Of course the Ivy League did not play basketball last season so this will be there first games in 2 years.

Dec. 1 – Central Arkansas

A rematch from last season. UCA gave the Hogs all they wanted for a while, but eventually Arkansas would pull away.

Last year was disappointing for UCA. They haven’t had any success in recent years, but I thought they were better than their 5-19 record showed.

Dec. 4 – Little Rock

In Eric Musselman’s first season, Arkansas played Little Rock in a pre-season exhibition that included the naming of Nolan Richardson court.

This will be the first regular season matchup for the teams.

Dec. 7 – Charlotte

Arkansas and Charlotte had their one and only matchup 10 years ago as the Hogs won by 13.

The 49ers have a lot of new faces this season, but return their leading scorer, Jahmir Young, who averaged 18 points per game last season.

Dec. 11 – Oklahoma (Tulsa, OK)

It’s an new era in Norman. Lon Kruger did a lot of good in his time at OU. 7 NCAA tournaments in 10 years. He has now retired and the administration did an outstanding job with his replacement.

Porter Moser takes over and I expect him to take OU to an even better status in CBB. With OU’s move to the SEC imminent, the coaching in the conference will get even stronger.

The Sooners may struggle in his first season, but you know they will compete and be coached well.

Arkansas leads the all-time series 16-12.

Dec. 18 – Hofstra (Little Rock, AR)

Arkansas has played 2 games against Hofstra, but not since 1978 in Pine Bluff. The Hogs lead the series 2-0.

Hofstra has won a lot of games in recent years, but cannot get it done in the their conference tournament. Joe Mihalich has really turned the program around.

The Pride have had winning records in 6 of 7 seasons and even had four 20+ win seasons.

Mihalich has built an impressive program. Can they finally get it done in the CAA Tournament to make it to March Madness?

Note that this will be a matchup against former Hog Baybe Iyiola .

Dec. 21 – Elon

Almost 20 years to the day, Arkansas will face Elon for just the 2nd time. The Hogs won by 46 the first time.

Elon has struggled over the past decade, but 3rd year head coach Mike Schrage has made some progress.

Jan. 29 – West Virginia

This is a game I’ve wanted for several years. Even during the Mike Anderson era. Anderson’s style against Bob Huggins would have been fun. We can say the same with Eric Musselman’s style. This will be a great matchup for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

The only other matchup between these teams was in the 2006 Old Spice Classic championship game where the Hogs won by 7.

We should be getting the dates of the SEC games soon. The season is fast approaching!

For all things Arkansas Basketball, give me a follow on Twitter @BenBrandonHoops