Better to have first-round exit in NCAA Tournament or win NIT?
SEC Country reporter Eric W. Bolin will candidly answer your Arkansas Razorbacks sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryHogs or by email to Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question of the Day: Thursday, February 8, 2018
None of the NCAA Tournament bracketology updates come out at the same time. All on different days. It’s hard to get a gauge on all them put together, when they’re all including the same games played. The only way to do it — with the reputable ones — is to check on Thursdays.
Per those Thursday checks, Arkansas lands, on average, as an 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Not exactly an easy in. Some have the Hogs as a 10. Some as a 12. And while those 11-versus-6 matchups have created some wild upsets in tournaments past, it’s unlikely Arkansas would be favored in such a game. If Arkansas isn’t favored, from a practical standpoint, it isn’t likely to win.
And there’s our hook into Max’s question.
On one hand, Arkansas making the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four seasons is impressive. It’s especially impressive if one considers the circumstances surrounding that lone season the Razorbacks didn’t make it (note that most fans don’t). There’s not a heck of a lot of coaches who can claim three dance appearances in the last four seasons. Mike Anderson can.
An NIT appearance would be happiness to no one. Most would find it a disappointment. But the thing of it is, an NIT appearance probably wouldn’t be a major letdown from reasonable preseason expectations. Of course, we are talking fans here, so “reasonable” is let out the window.
The truth of the matter is, without some major manipulation a first-round exit in the major postseason tournament is a far better showing, perception-wise, than a modest run in the lesser tournament. Given that Arkansas loses a bulk of its players next season, an NIT showing will only suggest no postseason at all for the Razorbacks in 2018-19.
That will only exacerbate frustrations. NCAA Tournament all the way.