Are the middling Razorbacks capable of upsetting Alabama?

Vanderbilt v Arkansas
Vanderbilt v Arkansas / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

No. 16 Alabama (20-10, 12-5 SEC) vs Arkansas (15-15, 6-11 SEC) will tip off at 11:00 CT in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The game will be televised on ESPN. 

Alabama Basketball will close the 2023-24 regular season with what could be a tricky game at home against Arkansas.

By just about any measure, the Razorbacks have been a disappointment this season. This has been one of the better programs in the SEC over the past five years, and entered 2023-24 with a well-respected coach and lots of talented pieces.

Ranked 14th in the preseason AP Poll, Arkansas was widely considered to be one of the more promising teams in the sport. It featured some experienced returnees along with yet another stellar transfer portal class under Coach Eric Musselman. In some ways, Musselman has rivaled Bama’s own Nate Oats in terms of modern day roster reconstruction, so the expectation was that he would once again field a formidable team. 

While it is very talented on paper, Arkansas just hasn’t been able to put it together this season. The Hogs are 11th in the SEC with a 6-11 league record, and have failed to notch a single win against a team in the top half of the SEC standings. Arkansas has taken losses of 20 points or more to Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss, LSU, and Tennessee in conference play. Barring a miracle SEC Tournament run, Musselman’s team will miss the Big Dance for the first time since 2019. 

From a scoring perspective, Arkansas is led by veteran transfer guards Tramon Mark and Khalif Battle. Mark, formerly of Houston, leads the team with 16.8 points per game while Battle, a Temple transfer, contributes 14.0 PPG. Both standing 6’5”, Mark and Battle make up a big backcourt that could cause problems for an Alabama team that might have to go without Rylan Griffen.

Trevon Brazile, Makhi Mitchell, and Jalen Graham are the key pieces in an athletic Arkansas frontcourt that collectively has been disappointing from a production standpoint. 

While it has talent up and down its roster, Arkansas just hasn’t gelled this year. The Hogs tend to play a lot of iso ball, with no player on the team averaging more than 2.1 assists per game. 

Additionally, Alabama has been good in general, and especially at home. With the exception of a neutral site loss to Ohio State way back in November, the Tide has only lost to top-25 caliber teams this season.

Bama has not really struggled at any point this season against the bottom half of the conference, and the only SEC home game that it has lost in the last two seasons came last week against a potential no. 1 seed in Tennessee.

Under Coach Nate Oats, the Tide has become nearly impervious to upset losses in Coleman Coliseum. If Alabama is able to refocus after a rough stretch, it should not fall victim to a home upset on Saturday.