Doubt creeps into Arkansas’ NCAA tournament hopes after losing to Vanderbilt

On Friday’s episode of Eye on College Basketball I pointed out that though ArkansasReputation, if you really dig into the fact that the Razorbacks are ranked 15th, It was conceivable that they would end up fiddling about missing the NCAA Tournament.

I put Arkansas’ potential for a foul play at 15% – but that was before the Hogs were stamped 97-84 in Vanderbilt on Saturday.

right Now? I’ll double the chances of letting the Razorbacks out of the big jig.

The Commodores’ Jerry Stackhouse is credited for putting up one of the most impressive second halves of the season: 69.2% shooting, including 66.7% from 3-point range and 63 points in the second half to Arkansas’ 42-turned eight-point deficit at the halfway point. The game in a 13-point win. Vandy averaged 1.4 points per possession, best showing against the (formerly Brave) Arkansas defense this season. Vanderbilt’s firing of the Hogs was impressive statistically, dropping Eric Musselman’s team from 14th to 22nd in overall defensive efficiency in the season.

I still think it’s a relief for Arkansas to see its name appear on CBS on that particular Sunday when the big class is revealed, but this program is in trouble and needs to find a way to safety soon. After an 11-1 start, Arkansas has lost four of its last five games and is 4-1 in the SEC, trailing only Mississippi in the league ledger.

No one thought this was possible three weeks ago, let alone in the pre-season.

There is much to worry about. First, because the offense is hampered by injuries, Arkansas has to win with its defense’s strength and ability. If that holds up, then this team is 100% toast. I don’t expect more teams to drop better than 1.2 points per possession on the Hogs as they move forward, so there’s at least that.

And what about that crime? like Musselman told me recentlyThe staff built the O around two non-playing players: Nick Smith Jr. and Trayvon Brazile. The latter is made for the season with a torn ACL. The former is working on a knee injury, with the hope that he will be able to return by February. Doubts reign as to whether a Top 10 NBA Draft selection will play again for the Hogs. I think he will. I also think he needs that to ensure an NCAA Tournament bid for Arkansas. Since December 27th According to BartTorvik.comArkansas has played like the top 120 team in the sport.

The problem is, Arkansas can’t shoot from the depths. She ranks 336th nationally in 3-point accuracy (29.1%) and doesn’t take that many three-pointers—only 27.6% of her shot attempts come from outside the arc. Having ranged threats is almost mandatory being an ultimate fourth caliber team these days. Arkansas? No one in the rotation shoots better than infantryman Anthony Black’s 32%.

Historically, bad 3-point shooting teams never really corrected course into good 3-point shooting teams more than halfway through the season. There is a ceiling here, regardless.

Next for the pigs is tilt at 13-4 Missouri Wednesday against a Tigers team that could be as flawed and struggling as Arkansas after losing three of the past four, including to fl on Saturday. No. 20 (Unranked Soon) Mizzou will benefit from a hometown get-up before taking on the Razorbacks on Wednesday. Arkansas will need to prove it can do something it has yet to do: win on the road.

At 12-5, the Razorbacks have won only twice on quality: San Diego State And Oklahoma in impartial courts. road games vs BaylorAnd KentuckyNo. 4 Alabama And number 5 Tennessee They are still waiting. Can this team win even two of those games without Smith on the floor? I doubt it.

The silver lining for Arkansas fans, and they know it, is how Musselman weathered the midseason whirlwind of the past two seasons and mustered those campaigns to the Elite Eight, the school’s first since the mid-1990s. In 2020-21, the Arkansas team was 13-5 at the end of January and is expected to be near the bubble. He lost one game between then and the NCAA Tournament. Last season, Arkansas played a poor non-conference schedule, flipping sideways early in league play and finding itself 10-5 with an 0-3 SEC record in early January.

The Razorbacks won 13 of their next 14 teams and earned a No. 4 seed on their way to a regional final.

Musselman is one of the best coaches in college basketball – which is why his name was put forward for the vacancy Texas Job, another subplot to the current unease with Arkansas’ situation – so I wouldn’t be surprised if this team finds a way to right itself. But up to this point, there isn’t much evidence to suggest that it will be.

The Razorbacks were considered a contender in the SEC just two weeks ago. This speculation is over. Arkansas is not going to win this conference. Instead, circumstances now dictate that we have to wait and see for this team. Can Arkansas redeem itself and do the bare minimum that has been expected over the past nine months in Fayetteville? Specifically, simply: Make your third straight NCAA Tournament under same Coach for the first time in over 20 years – since Nolan Richardson.

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