FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – By the end of Saturday night, the Arkansas basketball team could very well be tied for last place in the SEC. On January 13. Not exactly the infancy of league play.
Avoiding that is paramount. The Razorbacks don’t need to win Saturday against Missouri to save their NCAA Tournament hopes or Mike Anderson’s job. They need to beat the Tigers because they are supposed to. More talented teams, at home, are supposed to be inferior teams. Those that fail to achieve victory are not the types whose seasons go the way most anticipated.
Point being, if Arkansas loses to Mizzou inside Bud Walton Arena, a 1-4 start to SEC play provides a mighty large hole out of which to dig. Not an impossible chore. A chore nonetheless.
The home team has dropped three straight games, two on the road and most recently inside The Bud against the team predicted to finish last in the SEC this preseason. Turns out LSU isn’t probably the worst team in the league, but the Tigers are far from the best. They were picked last for a reason.
Missouri, on the other hand, was picked ahead of the Hogs. Sits that way right now, too. The Tigers’ start is modest. They beat South Carolina (perhaps the worst team in the SEC) and Georgia, a bit of a longshot for the NCAA Tournament. Mizzou also fell to Florida by two points. All this has come without the aid of Michael Porter Jr., the consensus No. 1 recruit in the land in his 2017 class. Porter is out for most of the season – though Missouri won’t say the entire season – because of a back injury. His loss limits the Tigers’ maximum upside, but doesn’t derail the team completely.
Despite Missouri’s better record and Arkansas’ slump, Las Vegas calls the Razorbacks the favorites. The spread is 5 1/2 for the Hogs as of Saturday morning. Arkansas was also favored against LSU on Wednesday and was outplayed the whole night en route to a 21-point loss.
Such performances have to stop and that right soon if Anderson’s bunch wants any part of the Big Dance come March.
Arkansas-Missouri basketball: Game info, details
- Time: Tip-off is at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 13
- Location: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Ark.
How can I watch the game?
The game can be seen on ESPN2.
How can I listen to the game?
The game will air on the Razorbacks Sports Network. Check local listings.
How can I get live stats for the game?
Live stats for the game can be found here.
While it’s been established why Arkansas needs to beat Missouri in the immediate, the future doesn’t hold any easier paths. The Razorbacks travel to Gainesville, Florida, on Wednesday night for a game against the SEC-unbeaten Gators.