What a roller coaster ride this year has been. Opening the year with a heartbreaker to Texas in overtime. Then, racking off six straight wins including one over Big Ten foe Indiana. When things were looking good, they uncharacteristically dropped two straight at Bud Walton. SEC play was an up and down ride to say the least. Beating A&M in college station to kick off conference play, losing four straight, winning four straight, losing six straight, and currently in the midst of a two game win streak.
An inconsistent season is the consequence of a young team. No seniors and one upperclassmen in a conference that has been better than it’s been in years. Desi Sills, Isaiah Joe, Keyshawn Embery-Simpson, and Reggie Chaney all play meaningful minutes each game. They also all played high school basketball a year ago and are making a great impact on the Razorbacks this year. The more I write and think about the ups and downs of the 2018-2019 season, the more I get excited about the 2019-2020 season. They will still be young, but ‘they’re young” won’t be an excuse.
Imagine a starting five of the four freshman listed above, with Adrio Bailey. You are talking about a lineup that has played over 3,300 minutes of basketball and counting. And Jalen Harris has a team leading 917 minutes on the year. I would be extremely confident in saying these six guys will have the most combined minutes of basketball than all of the SEC and maybe in the country. Next year Arkansas’ experience will be a helping hand next year instead of a downside, especially in close games. In games decided by four points or less, including overtime games, Arkansas has won six of 13.
Let’s talk postseason.
Arkansas is 16-14 (7-10). Let’s say they beat the Crimson Tide on Saturday and sneak into the 9th seed with Bama dropping to the 10th based on the head to head tiebreaker. We are now standing at 17-14 (8-10). Being a 9 seed, the Hogs would play the 8 seed in Nashville. Florida, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State are all contenders for the 8 seed. Say Arkansas beats whichever team ends up in the 8 slot. Now, a big showdown against 1 seed LSU. Earlier this morning according to Bleacher Report, LSU suspended head coach Will Wade due to wiretaps caught by the FBI. The Tigers could be a mess by the time Arkansas (hopefully) faces them in the quarterfinals. LSU and the Hogs have played two really competitive games with each winning on the others home court. For the purpose of this story and to continue this dream, the Razorbacks knock off LSU! Boom. Now, 19-14 (10-10) is pretty respectable. That would place Arkansas on the bubble, and maybe even just outside of it. The best chance of making the Big Dance is to win the SEC tournament.
But for now, it looks like the 2013-2014 season where Arkansas finished in the NIT. Still, a NIT bid for this young team in a tough SEC is nothing to be ashamed of. Seven teams from the conference will end up in the NCAA tournament, with Alabama being right on the bubble.
Big game on Saturday. Will be the last time to see Daniel Gafford in Bud Walton Arena, probably.
Important weekend series for the OmaHogs. Facing a respectable non-conference opponent in Louisiana Tech.
Over 50 prospects are in town for the football squad, expect to see a commitment or two come out of this weekend.
Softball team is off to a 18-3 start.
Solid 2019 so far for Razorback athletics.
Woo. Pig. Sooie.