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Arkansas is making its third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years.

Mark it down: Arkansas basketball to Sweet 16

Eric Bolin

Arkansas football rules the world of Razorbacks sports. So, with your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast and get caught up. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas … especially Arkansas football. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points! There is no place like it on the web.

The cheering in Bud Walton Arena almost drowned it out. Even with the volume up on the loudspeakers, the Hog Call made Seth Davis’ words hard to hear.

Arkansas is going to the Sweet 16.

That’s his pick, anyway. The CBS basketball analyst, when he saw the Razorbacks matched up with Butler in the No. 7 seed/No. 10 seed pairing in the East, then Purdue as the opposing No. 2 seed, had no pause picking Arkansas to win two games.

For what it’s worth, I agree. Yes, me, the same guy who picked Arkansas to finish with 19 regular-season wins and make the NCAA Tournament by only a hair is now going to write in “UA” all the way to Boston (write-in is literal, by the way, forget that digital stuff). The matchups are too preferable.

Butler is on the downward trend. The Bulldogs lost three of four and six of nine to end the season. Part of that, granted, is playing in the Big East. Two conferences were better than the SEC in basketball this year and one of them was the Big East. It’s a slog. Teams at the bottom are not as good as the SEC’s, but the top and middle are just as good. Better, in fact, in the former. They’re experienced, too, having gone to the Sweet 16 last season and falling to the same team that knocked out Arkansas the game before: North Carolina.

The game will be close. The 7/10 games almost always are. Arkansas could, in fact, lose. But the Hogs should be the favored team and advance to meet Purdue.

As for the why of picking the Razorbacks over the Boilermakers? Well, gut. The team I saw over the last two weeks is not the team I saw in December. It’s not the team I banked on seeing in October when I did, in fact, pick it for 19 wins.

Arkansas has flaws. Arkansas can disappear for stretches. But this team just looks different.

Don’t buy Arkansas’ spring depth chart … much

New coaches tend to say things like, “Nobody is guaranteed a starting job.” Not exactly true. The stellar players on a roster will start on a roster. Unless they botch something off the field, they’re going to start. Hjalte Froholdt, De’Jon Harris, Dre Greenlaw and Santos Ramirez. These guys aren’t going anywhere and first-year coach Chad Morris, and the rest of us, know it.

Some positions are going to have starters. Oh, someone will begin a game on the field and, technically, be a starter. But Arkansas has so many platoon spots, labeling someone first team brings about the wrong connotation. Take, for example, wide receiver. Arkansas’ depth chart there, after its first spring scrimmage, looks rather unlike what it’s projected to be.

The Razorbacks will, more often than not, roll out a three-wide receiver set. They’ll have three starters. The only one, right now, who is getting first-team snaps who was a starter last season is Jonathan Nance. The Apostrophe Brothers (not really brothers), De’Vion Warren and La’Michael Pettway, are the other two. Warren and Pettway combined for 7 catches for 97 yards last year.

It’s hard to say whether that’s good news or bad news if it holds up. Looks positive because it shows Pettway, who has spent a lot of time in the doghouse in his first few years, is doing something positive. Warren is getting an opportunity. But it’s bad if you consider who is missing. Brandon Martin is a second-team member and he’s our top choice as a breakout player. Deon Stewart and Jordan Jones, second and third in catches and receiving yards last season, are second team and third team, respectively.

It’s just hard to imagine, right now, that holding up. Just another warning, really, to not take things in the spring too far to head.

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ICYMI

Tweets and the like

• This is the best reaction to Arkansas-Butler matchup. For the youngsters, Rotnei Clarke is an Oklahoma native who played three years with the Razorbacks but transferred to Butler when Mike Anderson was hired to replace John Pelphrey.

• Nice graphic.

• Unfortunately for those of you visiting Detroit, the Red Wings are on a road trip while the NCAA Tournament is in town. Which, duh, obviously.

• Arkansas softball has a doubleheader Monday.

Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.