SEC Basketball: Hogs save SEC’s Big Dance bacon


Before March Madness began, there was anticipation at least three SEC basketball teams would make deep runs. Tennessee and Auburn were labeled by some national pundits as potential Final Four teams. A few, not ‘blinded by blue’ pickers, objectively thought the Kentucky Wildcats would be an Elite Eight team. Arkansas was not ignored, but expectations for the Hogs did not match those for the SEC’s presumed top three teams.

Little was expected from the Alabama Crimson Tide or the LSU Bengal Tigers. Nate Oats’ Alabama team had ceased to be a threat against top teams – and sometimes, not even against weak teams. LSU went into March Madness minus one Will Wade, and being coached by an unproven interim coach. As we discussed before, when Notre Dame beat the Crimson Tide, the outcome was no upset. LSU’s listless performance while losing to Iowa State was predictable.

When the first week of March Madness ended with only Arkansas left in the Sweet Sixteen, SEC basketball fans (other than Arkansas fans) were stunned by the SEC’s implosion. A league that at some times during the season appeared to have surpassed the ACC, was equal to the Big 12 and on par with the Big Ten – was suddenly scoffed and derided.

Arkansas had an easier path than most to the Sweet Sixteen, facing a 13-seed and a 12-seed. Although Vermont was probably a better team than its seed indicated, the Hogs winning the two games by four points and five points was unimpressive.

No one gave Arkansas a chance against 1-seed Gonzaga. The Bulldogs were not just a 1-seed, they were the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga was playing in its 24th consecutive NCAA Tournament. Having lost in the Championship game twice, many college basketball pundits thought this was the year for Mark Few’s team.

Arkansas slammed that door in Few’s face. The Razorbacks outplayed Gonzaga with the physical toughness Eric Musselman builds into his teams. SEC basketball fans may get a Final Four team after all, though not all will find it easy to root for the Razorbacks.

Musselman has become a top SEC basketball coach

Despite his failure as an NBA head coach, Eric Musselman has proven himself at Nevada and Arkansas. He gets the most out of his teams. His personality is a bit of a fireball and that attitude carries over to his players who will back down from no team.

Next. A one-and-done JD Davison. dark

Can the Hogs take down Duke? They can and while they will not be, perhaps the Razorbacks should be the favorite.