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NWA EDITORIAL: Basketball Hogs, perplexing at times, nonetheless earned their way into The Dance

Hogs earn their way into NCAA tourney by NWA Democrat-Gazette | March 14, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.
Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman talks to players, Friday, March 10, 2023 during the second half of the 2023 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

We've heard it said, but not by whom, that "Expectation is the root of all heartache."

The phrase eloquently suggests that objectivity gets lost in that equation. It's not what actually happens that determines our response. Rather, it's how what happens compares to one's presumptions that dictates whether we experience an emotional letdown or a celebratory sensation.

College sports are subject to a lot of presumptions these days. Schools have put their "products" on the court and stir up a frenzy. Talk radio and round-the-clock sports TV channels dramatize the season even beyond the natural drama of athletic competition. And the polls, of course, are full of horse-race handicapping to be embraced or maligned.

Eric Musselman's Razorback basketball team is in the Big Dance with a 20-12 record that included eight SEC wins but 10 conference losses. The overall record reflects wins over some seriously well-stocked and competitive teams, but that SEC tally is a tough pill.

Who didn't enter this basketball season with high-flying ideas of where Musselman's collection of transfer protocol warriors and incoming freshmen could take the Hogs? Nationally, preseason talk about the team was in overdrive. Hogs fans believed.

Wins are what matter for the success of the program and fan bragging rights. Losses are losses, even when six of them came with a margin of three points or less. In our book, that says something, too. Nail-biter losses are more heartbreaking than blowouts because it's not hard at all to see how one or two plays would have made the difference.

It's been a good season, though the sense of letdown lingers with some fans who expected so much more. So be it.

Here's our take: It's March and there's Madness to come, and the Razorbacks are in it. That's worth celebrating.

Every team is 0-0. Someone has six games to win to earn a national championship.

Why not Arkansas?

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