FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Looking back is always fun. Unless it’s some ex you can’t seem to get out of your head. Then not so much.
But when your team has made the NCAA Tournament, even those moments that drove you crazy at the time can be looked back on with a chuckle.
The Arkansas basketball team is preparing for a first-round Dance date with Seton Hall on Friday. And with this being a travel day, no availability and no practice, let’s take a look at those moments for the Arkansas basketball team. The good, the bad, and the definitely, very, awfully ugly.
A good Arkansas beginning
- W — vs. Fort Wayne, 92-83
- W — vs. Southern Illinois, 90-65
- W — UT-Arlington, 71-67
Considering they were three unsexy teams in name, Arkansas did exactly what it needed to against lesser competition. For the longest time, UTA was the best win on the Razorbacks schedule. But its collapse in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament meant UT-Arlington stayed out of the NCAA Tournament.
The most memorable game, well, memorable moment, came with Southern Illinois and coach Barry Hinson. Remember that?
Uh, what was that?
- L — vs. Minnesota, 85-71
This game worried people the Razorbacks of 2016-17 were just the Razorbacks of 2015-16. Arkansas looked absolutely miserable. Couldn’t shoot. Couldn’t rebound. Couldn’t stop anyone. Looked like a junior-high team at times.
Turns out, Minnesota is a No. 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Told ya.
Bingo. Do *not* freak out about tonight's Hogs loss to Minnesota. Do not do it. https://t.co/2t9fq2IyCD
— Eric Bolin (@ericwbolin) November 23, 2016
- W — vs. Mount St. Mary’s, 89-76
- W — Stephen F. Austin, 78-62
- W — Austin Peay, 99-62
- W — Houston, 84-72
- W — North Florida, 91-76
- W — Texas, 77-74
- W — North Dakota State, 90-56
Houston ended up just outside the NCAA Tournament and Texas, well, Texas stunk the rest of the year. But at the time, this stretch got everyone over the Golden Gophers game and provided some higher hopes for when Arkansas would open SEC play against an old familiar face.
But, really, there wasn’t much memorable about any of these games other than they were all wins.
Slow opening to SEC
- L — Florida, 81-72
- W — Tennessee, 82-78
- L — Kentucky, 97-71
- L — Mississippi State, 84-78
Arkansas fans let KeVaughn Allen, a North Little Rock native, have it in his return to his home state for Florida. Conway’s Justin Leon less so. The Gators were never troubled. Then, of course, Arkansas went on the road to Knoxville – where everyone thought Mike Anderson couldn’t win because, you know, it was on the road – and beat the Vols. Happy times again, right?
Kentucky smoked the Razorbacks and Justin Cole Moore looked like a clown, deleting tweets about Malik Monk. A win against MSU would have righted the ship, but the game ended up a loss. Still the biggest stubbed toe of the Arkansas season, I think. Save one.
- W — Missouri, 92-73
- W — Texas A&M, 62-60
- W — LSU, 99-86
- W — Vanderbilt, 71-70
Winning four straight put the Razorbacks in fine position at 5-3 in the SEC just before the mini-break, what with the Big 12/SEC Challenge coming.
Plus, the Vanderbilt game was legendary. The Commodores completely gave that thing away and Daryl Macon got himself a new nickname.
— Razorback Basketball (@RazorbackMBB) February 23, 2017
- L — Oklahoma State, 99-71
- W — Alabama, 87-68
- L — Missouri, 83-78
- L — Vanderbilt, 72-59
Burn. Disaster struck. Fans wanted Anderson out. Moses Kingsley was “soft.” The junior-college guys were overhyped. Everyone stinks.
Those were common thoughts from the fan base after this pretty miserable stretch. And, honestly, they were deserved. The Alabama game notwithstanding, Arkansas looked like hot garbage during this span. The Missouri loss is especially inexplicable. Even now. How did that happen? People were losing their minds.
- W — LSU, 78-70
- W — South Carolina, 83-76
- W — Ole Miss, 98-80
- W — Texas A&M, 86-77
- W — Auburn, 79-68
- L — Florida, 78-65
- W — Georgia, 85-67
- W v Ole Miss, 73-72
- W — Vanderbilt, 76-62
- L — Kentucky, 82-65
That leads us today. The Razorbacks went on an absolute tear during the last month. A hiccup against Florida, really, was the only blemish until Sunday when things got a bit out of hand.
But the wild thing is, even though it took a mess to get here, Arkansas ultimately hit its expected destination. They were counted on being an NCAA Tournament team. A mid-seeded one, at that. They’ve hit it. Arkansas has done exactly what it was always supposed to.
If this recap teaches us anything, though, it’s that the journey sure doesn’t equal the destination.