Arkansas running out of chances to build NCAA Tourney resume

UA mens basketball

Photo by Michael Woods/NWA Media
Arkansas needs a win against Kentucky tonight to bolster its NCAA Tournament resume.

How important is Arkansas’ home game tonight with Kentucky? The outcome could easily decide if Arkansas is playing in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT. Or worse, not playing at all in the postseason.
Currently, the Hogs are without a signature win and its RPI is an unimpressive 83 and could drop more if the Razorbacks can’’t pick up a league win this week (more on that in a minute). The weak non-confeence schedule has officially come back to haunt Arkansas.
UA coach Mike Anderson banked his non-conference schedule on the Maui Invitational. That backfired when Arkansas lost to Gonzaga (No. 25 RPI), beat Minnesota (46) and lost to Cal (32). Hardly an impressive showing for the NCAA Tournament selection committee to consider. Arkansas’ only other Top 50 RPI victory came against SMU (43).
Anderson thought he had a quality opponent in Clemson, but that win has proved to be unimpressive as the Tigers (11-4, 2-1 ACC) aren’t in the RPI Top 100.
So, Arkansas needed to impresses in a weak Southeastern Conference, which most project to only land four NCAA Tournament bids.
The Hogs promptly laid an egg at Texas A&M (111) and squandered a late lead against Florida (6), which would have been an excellent resume builder.
UK (16) is another opportunity to gain an impressive win and push the RPI to a more respectable level. However, if Arkansas loses, it only has two other chances to beat teams with a current RPI ranked in the Top 50 — Missouri (home and away) and at UK.
A loss tonight would most likely require Arkansas to sweep all three of those games, which would be tough and UA would also have a small margin of error against the remaining teams on the slate — since none have impressive RPI rankings.
An Arkansas loss tonight also means the Hogs could easily start the SEC season 0-5, which would could squash any hope of an NCAA bid.
Arkansas plays Saturday at Georgia (176), who is 2-0 in the SEC and upset Missouri, and at Tennessee (56) next Wednesday.
After the Texas A&M road performance, counting either as a ‘W’ is a risky proposition.
The odds may rise if the Razorbacks can win tonight. Play well down the stretch, get Bud Walton rocking and take to the road with a signature win, some momentum and confidence.
However, if they don’t beat the Wildcats tonight, Arkansas is in great danger of enduring another disappointing selection Sunday.