FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Three choices remain for Arkansas basketball. Whichever one the Razorbacks act upon, that will determine their fate when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.
Five games left in the regular season, home against Texas A&M and Kentucky, at Alabama, home against Auburn, and at Missouri. That’s it. Five games Arkansas has against teams all projected to make the NCAA Tournament.
The first outcome, ensuring a “make” the NCAA Tournament, is to win three of five and beat Auburn (unlikely). Arkansas is a lock if that happens. The odds are strong if the Razorbacks just win three of five, without beating Auburn, they would be fine, too.
Second outcome, lose all five. Not out of the question. Every team Arkansas plays is, on paper, better than the Razorbacks. Also unlikely.
Most likely? Tread water, same as they have all SEC season long. Arkansas holds an NCAA Tournament projection showing the Razorbacks hover between a 9-seed and a 11-seed on most bracketologies.
If they want to lock it up, it’s time to start winning.
- Record: 18-8 (7-6 in SEC)
- RPI: 33
- BPI: 41
- KenPom: 44
- Strength of schedule (SOS): 33
- 11-seed ESPN
- 9-seed Real-Time RPI
- 9-seed Bracket Matrix
- 10-seed Washington Post
- Missouri (22 RPI, 45 BPI)
- Texas (55 RPI, 44 BPI)
- Arizona State (24 RPI, 42 BPI)
Discrepancies, discrepancies. More than anything else, if Arkansas treads water the rest of this regular season, those discrepancies might be the reason the Razorbacks make it into the NCAA Tournament. It’s specially true if the Hogs beat Missouri in the season finale.
ESPN doesn’t think nearly as highly of the Tigers as Mizzou’s RPI would suggest. Missouri has been a decent per the Worldwide Leader’s figure (BPI), but it has been a mighty good one per RPI. The same can be said for Arizona State out in the Pac-12. Both teams are currently slotted higher than Arkansas in average bracket projections, but not by so much as to make them dissimilar. Where the Razorbacks hold the edge is in a lesser margin between their RPI and BPI.
Arkansas is a lot like Texas, which, on its face, doesn’t seem that comparable. Shaka Smart’s team is up and down, doesn’t have a great Big 12 record and the Longhorns’ overall record is just four games above .500. Certainly Texas needs a strong finish to the season to make it, but so does Arkansas. The Big 12 is a better conference than the SEC, too, so that will carry some weight.