Hogs are in, but where will they dance?

Posted: February 27, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Arkansas forward Mike Anderson celebrates talks to players during the team's NCAA college basketball game against Mississippi in Oxford, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. (Petre Thomas/The Oxford Eagle via AP)

All the so-called experts are convinced the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville is in the NCAA Tournament and headed somewhere cold with no sign of spring, like Pittsburgh or Detroit.

Here's hoping they are completely wrong about the destination.

Those so-called experts also have eight SEC teams in the field of 68, which would be a record for the football conference.

Most likely, Razorbacks head Coach Mike Anderson is not paying any attention to predictions. He's probably telling his team the best way to get into the Big Dance is to keep winning.

The Razorbacks are in a four-way tie for third with Mississippi State, Kentucky and Florida; unfortunately, the Hogs lost to all three of those teams.

So if they end up in a four-way tie, Kentucky or Florida -- depending on what happens in the season finale between those two Saturday -- would be the third seed, the loser the fourth seed.

With two games remaining, it all depends on what happens on the floor.

Arkansas has perhaps its most critical game of the season tonight in Bud Walton Arena, and the Hogs need their fans to turn out like it was a Saturday afternoon game.

It is senior night, and the Hogs will try to make sure Auburn doesn't sew up at least a tie for the SEC regular-season title on their court.

The Tigers are 12-4 in the conference and after tonight have only South Carolina left. Tennessee is 11-5 and at Mississippi State tonight before finishing the season with Georgia.

Arkansas has a shot at getting a double bye in the SEC Tournament, but the Hogs likely need to win the final two games. That would assure them of finishing ahead of the loser of that Kentucky-Florida game (in Gainesville).

Not playing until Friday is a huge advantage. The team they would face would have played at least one game and possibly two.

Go into the SEC Tournament with 22 regular-season wins and all the Hogs would need to do to move up to a No. 6 or No. 7 seed in March Madness is win one game.

Right now, it is easy to agree with the so-called experts that Arkansas is in, but not so sure about eight teams. Auburn is No. 7 in the NCAA's RPI, Tennessee No. 12, Kentucky No. 16, Arkansas No. 30, and then it jumps to No. 41 for Alabama, No. 44 for Missouri, No. 56 for Florida and Mississippi State is No. 62.

But across the board, coast to coast, college basketball is down a little this year. Maybe the one-and-done rule has finally caught up with the college game, or maybe it is just an odd year.

The Big East won't get but six bids, and the Big Ten is looking at five.

Regardless, what the Hogs need to do this week is build off the win at Alabama on Saturday and beating the SEC leader will help them with their RPI and strength of schedule.

Any program would take a No. 8 or No. 9 seed over being left out of the tournament, but that's the only thing good about it because the next game is most likely against a No. 1 seed. Cinderella has never knocked off a top seed.

So what the Razorbacks can do this week is work on improving their seed. With more wins comes more respect and the chance to play a little closer to home.

Arkansas fans have not traveled well the past few years, but Wichita, Kan., or Dallas would be much more tempting than going north or as far west as Boise, Idaho.

There may be only two games remaining, but this is a big week for the Hogs. They need to start out with a big Bud Walton crowd giving Auburn Barnhell.

Sports on 02/27/2018