Arkansas basketball has to win 2 more games to make NCAA Tournament
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: Tuesday, February 20, 2018
And that’s in five games, not four. Arkansas (19-8, 8-6 SEC) has four games left in the regular season. On Tuesday, the Razorbacks are at Bud Walton Arena against everyone’s favorite (read: not favorite) team: Kentucky. The Razorbacks win that, they’re almost certainly a lock.
Almost certainly. That isn’t hedging. I try not to do that. What it is is reality.
Arkansas is No. 37 in the Basketball Power Index. Kentucky is No. 36. After that game the Razorbacks head to Alabama (No. 44) before a home game against Auburn, the 14th-ranked BPI team. The regular-season finale is March 3 at Missouri (No. 45).
The question isn’t whether Arkansas can win two more games in its next five — remember, it will have at least one game in the SEC Tournament. The question is how many more do they need to win. Those remaining opponents are so highly respected by the analytics community and the eye-test prognosticators that the Razorbacks’ current numbers combined with what they will earn with victories would be enough to keep them ahead of the rabble from other conferences.
Now, is winning just one more in the regular season and one in the SEC Tournament ideal? Of course not. A 2-2 finish in the regular season would alleviate the nerves going into the league tournament. Doable, considering Arkansas has lost just one conference home game all season (6-1). Also difficult considering the best two teams on Arkansas’ schedule are the ones visiting Bud Walton Arena and the Razorbacks have just two road wins in league play.
Long story short: The schedule is just difficult enough that Arkansas will get credit for doing what it can. That’s the way the SEC has been this season. A bit overrated in my opinion, but certainly not the league it has been for most of the last 10 years.
One win in five games — probably out.
Two? Probably in.
Three? Strongly in.
Four? Bona fide lock.