Jonah’s Top 25 (and Hog ranking)

Excited for the day that the I can remove the “and Hog ranking”, but until then here are my power rankings and an update on the Razorbacks.

Some resources I use to put these rankings together:


  1. Baylor: I have the Bears slightly edging out Gonzaga but they are both in a class of their own. At 16-0 (mainly in blowout fashion) Baylor has given fans no reason to doubt that they could win it all this year.
  2. Gonzaga: There are two certainties in this world: The sun will rise in the morning and Mark Few will have a dominant basketball team. At 18-0 with wins over Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa, and Virginia the Bulldogs aren’t just dominating the WCC. Smart money would see Gonzaga facing off against Baylor in a tossup come early April.
  3. Michigan: The Juwan Howard experiment is officially a success. Apart from a lopsided loss @Minnesota the Wolverines haven’t lost a basketball game. They hold wins over Wisconsin and Purdue. We will see what they’re made of down the stretch with some tough games upcoming.
  4. Ohio State: The Buckeyes high powered offense just went 12 rounds on the road against Iowa and pulled out a decisive victory. I have them a little higher than most statistical rankings and look for them to be a real threat if they can clean things up on defense. Chris Holtmann has things rolling in Columbus.
  5. Alabama: Since conference play has started the Crimson Tide are a perfect 10-0 in blowout fashion in every game other than a 94-90 win @Auburn. They have a dangerous offense and a very underrated defense that comes in at 3rd in the country. The Tide can beat anyone and look to be a threat in the Big Dance.
  6. Iowa: I would argue that the Hawkeyes have underperformed to this point. That being said they are 13-5 in the best conference in America. Their sole bad loss was to Minnesota who has proven to be a Giant Killer. With Garza being surrounded by the highest ranked offense in the country Iowa is a legit danger to anyone they face.
  7. Illinois: A very balanced team that scores the ball efficiently and gets back on defense. Weapons at every position makes them hard to stop on a given night. A big win over Iowa and a road win against Indiana have the Illini moving in the right direction.
  8. Villanova: Another year another great Jay Wright team. The Wildcats have a great win over Texas on the road and only one “bad loss”. There is no shame in losing to a Mike Anderson team that often surprises people in big games, but they were dominated that night in MSG. Look for them to bounce back and be 2 or 3 seed going into the tournament.
  9. Virginia: Slow tempo, half court offense, and a Tony Bennett defense make up a grind it out team in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers are missing a marquee win but have taken care of business since losing to San Francisco in late November. In an easier ACC this year they look to roll through the back half of their schedule.
  10. Houston: Kelvin Sampson’s squad was looking a lot more dangerous before dropping a game to a bad East Carolina team. Still, the Cougars hold the 5th ranked defense in the country and can rebound with anyone. Houston looks to bully teams with their physicality and will be a tough matchup for just about anyone in March.
  11. Texas Tech
  12. Wisconsin
  13. Texas
  14. Tennessee
  15. Florida State
  16. Creighton
  17. Oklahoma
  18. Kansas
  19. West Virginia
  20. USC
  21. Colorado
  22. Purdue
  23. Florida
  24. Missouri
  25. Loyola-Chicago

Arkansas: 29

KenPom: 26, Sagarin: 22, Massey: 33, Net: 30

The Hogs are a difficult team to get a grasp on this season to say the least. Their offense sputters at times and they often give up runs against even bad teams. That being said, the Razorbacks have more depth than they have had in a long time and are still 14-5 looking firmly in the field at the moment. They face @Kentucky, @Missouri, and get the Gators at home in the next three games. If the Hogs win two of the three you could see them crack into some of the top 25 rankings. With a difficult back half of the schedule things could go downhill fast or they could really make a statement. The Razorbacks just need to win the games they should to make the tournament but that is no easy task.

Arkansas Film Room: Mississippi State at Arkansas

A quick breakdowns of Hog victories with highlights from WarMachine2013!

Arkansas: 61, Mississippi State: 45

  • 0:45 – Hogs have 3 points in the first eleven minutes of this matchup. This is where we are missing an elite scorer like Mason Jones. Moses continues to be the guy to get us out of slumps but this effort would not hold up against a better team. We have also seen flashes of this from J.D. Notae but not nearly consistent enough.
  • 0:56 – Devo’s length continues to allow him to finish at the rim in transition. Would be nice to see a little more aggression from him when we are struggling on offense.
  • 1:33 – A turning point in this game. That is a play that reminds you of some of the grit from a Mike Anderson team and something this team needs to continue to look for. Desi Sills has been the answer at times but has also lacked in consistency.
  • 2:30 – We see Devo hesitant on the open 3 ball (which he shoots at a 40% clip) but makes up for it with a great drive and dump to Vanover. Would like to see more confidence from Devo as he has looked like a really efficient player of late.
  • 3:18 – Vanover doing what 7’3 guys can do. If he could add some post moves and some weight he could be very dangerous in coming years. That is a massive IF.
  • 4:03 – Arkansas struggles defending the perimeter. Yet they continue this half court trap. Makes little sense to me but they also forced 26 turnovers on the night.
  • 4:17 – Devo with the filthy no look, if you missed it live you should rewatch it now.
  • 5:00 – Vanover with the over the top pass. This is where he could really be deadly if we continue to look for it. That pass has led to some turnovers this year but can really help break down zones if he can execute a higher rate.

Overall Take: Musselman has to figure out how to get out of the gate faster. It’s nearly every game that the hogs come out slow and sloppy. Vanover might actually want to start playing more down low on offense and we will see if Musselman encourages that in the future. Moses and Devo continue to be difference makers and will likely see more action both in minutes and offensive in usage down the stretch of the season. Ugly win but a win in SEC play.

KenPom Breakdown: The hogs moved from 30th the 27th after Tuesday nights home victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Box Score

Strange Year in the SEC: Parity or Inconsistency?

02/03/21

Another night in the SEC with strange scores, weird runs, and unexplainable upsets. To start the night we saw Florida, an 8 point favorite at home, lose to a typically uninspiring Gamecocks team. This is the same Florida who just put together a huge win on the road against West Virginia. I would pin this on a “hangover” game after a big win but this has become the norm in the SEC this year. Ole Miss lost to Georgia but beat Tennessee. Missouri beat 6th ranked Illinois but lost to Mississippi State by 15. Tennessee beat Kansas by 19 just to fall to Ole Miss three days later. And so on and so on.

That being said Alabama continued to be the sole consistent team in the conference. They did more than just handle business as they dominated the LSU Tigers 78-60. The Tide did this behind 19 points from Jaden Shackelford and a good defensive performance. Missouri finished the night with a 75-70 win over the struggling Wildcats. Neither team looked wildly impressive but Missouri continues to move up the SEC rankings notching their 12th win to move to 5-3 in conference play.

The cannibalization we are seeing in the SEC has somewhat been mirrored in the Big 12. There isn’t enough data to go ahead and just say it’s because of COVID, and I am not sure what that would even entail. SEC teams can only hope that members of the selection committee see this as parity and competition but statistically SEC teams are struggling to keep up. The overall impact of this strange season won’t be fully realized until Selection Sunday. Bubble teams like Arkansas, LSU, and potentially Florida will have to shape up or face the possibility of being left out come March.


Cinderellas to Look for Before the Big Dance

02/03/21

Predicting an entire March Madness field is a little outside of my current capabilities. For now I am doing to look at 4 teams ranked outside of the top 10 that have real potential to make the Elite8/Final 4.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Red Raiders are led by Chris Beard who is quickly becoming a household name in College Basketball. They were fortunate to bring in star transfer Mac McClung to round off a solid lineup that defends very well and scores at a decent rate. Texas Tech plays at one of the slowest tempos in the country and can hang with anyone as long as they are able to control the pace of the game. They have solid wins @Oklahoma, @Texas, @LSU, and again at home over Oklahoma. They don’t have any “bad” losses apart from a home loss to a respectable Oklahoma State squad. This team has high floor around the Sweet 16 and truly has the ability to knock off anyone.

Illinois Fighting Illini

The Illini are looking better and better after a slow start to a highly anticipated season. With elite play at multiple positions they don’t seem to have any big weaknesses. They shoot the 3 ball at 39.7% to earn the 9th best percentage in the country to bolster their top 10 offense and they have a top 20 defense to match. What makes them so dangerous to me is their junior small forward Ayo Dosunmu. His quickness at 6-5 200 pounds is hard to matchup with and Illini make sure he has the ball in his hands (handling it in 85% of possessions). No one wants to see this team in March and we could very well see them in early April.

Virginia Cavaliers

Another year, another solid Tony Bennett squad. The Cavaliers are another team that plays at an extremely slow tempo to break teams down over the course of the game. Not many teams want to be in a half court battle with these guys but this isn’t all the Virginia of old. Unlike years past, Virginia is incredibly efficient on the offensive side of the ball. They have evolved into a team that can knock down the 3 ball (39.5% clip) and get back to set up their half court defense. They are missing a marquee win thus far to put on their resume and have suffered two bad losses to Gonzaga and San Francisco (yes, San Francisco). Still, they are a team everyone should keep an eye on when March comes around.

Loyola Chicago Ramblers

Yes, the same Ramblers who made the Final Four in 2018. The Ramblers rank decently on the offensive end and have put together a tremendous season containing opposing offenses bringing them to 5th in the country in defensive efficiency. They stick to a slow tempo on both sides of the ball and finish 2 point field goals at nearly a 60% clip (4th in the country). If Porter Moser’s Ramblers get the right matchups and play their style of game we could be looking at another run in the Big Dance. If I was Sister Jean I would clear my schedule for mid to late March.

SEC Game Predictions (02/03/21)

After the postponement of the Texas A&M vs Vanderbilt game, the SEC now has 3 matchups on the Wednesday slate.

South Carolina @ Florida

This should be a good matchup for the Gators high powered offense as they face the 82nd ranked defense in country. Expect a high scoring game in which Florida is just too much to handle for the Gamecocks. The home favorites take this one by double digits after pulling away down the stretch.

My Prediction: Florida 81 South Carolina 70

Betting Play: Florida -8.5

Kentucky @ Missouri

Here comes my bias again. I just can’t bring myself to pick Missouri in this one. I think we could see the Wildcats close out a close one in Columbus if their offense can find scoring. This to me is a toss up but my gut tells me to go with Kentucky on the road. It should be a great matchup down low between Olivier Sarr and Missouri big man Jeremiah Tilmon in one of the best games of the night.

My Prediction: Kentucky 67 Missouri 64

Betting Play: Kentucky +4.5

LSU @ Alabama

I am very excited for this matchup and I expect a good game from start to finish. Two of the better offenses in the country will face off tonight in Tuscaloosa. The difference is the Crimson Tide have the 8th ranked defense compared to a struggling defense on the Tigers end (146th). Look for Alabama to push the tempo in a closer game than some might think. Don’t be surprised if this comes down to the wire. If it does we have seen LSU struggle to finish games, most recently in Lubbock where they blew a 7 point lead with 1:30 remaining this past weekend.

My Prediction: Alabama 80 LSU 76

Betting Play: LSU +8.5

Game Review: Arkansas vs Mississippi State

02/02/21

Preview:

Arkansas (-7.5)Mississippi State
KenPom Ranking3068
AdjO Ranking3563
AdjD Ranking3675
KP Projected Score:7569

“No such thing as a bad win” – Chad Morris. Based off Eric Musselman’s reactions throughout this ugly game I would imagine he disagrees with former Arkansas football coach Chad Morris. Perhaps that is why he is the former head coach.

The Bulldogs jumped on the Hogs early on to take 16-3 lead with 8:45 remaining in the first half. Yes you read that right, the Hogs boasting the 30th ranked offensive efficiency in the country scored 3 points in the first 11 minutes of the game. Luckily for the Razorbacks, Mississippi State did not prove to be a worthy adversary down the stretch of the first half. With Arkansas going into the locker room with a 28-22 lead.

In what has to be one of the strangest games of the year it was Connor Vanover who ended up leading the hogs statistically. A good performance on both ends left him with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals in 29 minutes of play. Other hogs provided big plays to get the struggling hogs going early on. Devo Davis provided 8 rebounds from the guard position while Moses Moody put together another solid night contributing at key moments.

In what can only be described as one the strangest games of the year, Arkansas fans can only hope bracketologists solely look at the box score as the Razorbacks ended up winning 61-45. Regardless of the eye test, the Hogs take care of business in Fayetteville and improve to 14-5 as the Bulldogs drop another to fall to 10-9. This victory broke a Mississippi State 6 game win streak against the Razorbacks.

Stat Leaders:

  • Connor Vanover: 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals in 29 minutes
  • Justin Smith: 10 points, 10 rebounds, 5/8 on field goals in 36 minutes

Notable Events :

  • Hogs were held to 3 points with 8:45 remaining in the first half falling behind 16-3
  • Desi Sills left the game with an apparent collarbone injury in the first half
    • Sills did shoot in warmups during halftime and Musselman said he “should be good moving forward” in his post game interview with SEC Network
  • Hogs finished the half on a 23-4 run to take a 28-22 lead into the locker room
  • Hogs never let the Bulldogs within 5 in the 2nd half
  • Bulldogs sacrificed a season high 26 turnovers

SEC LEAGUE NEWS:

  • Ole Miss upsets 11th ranked Tennessee 52-50, Volunteers league struggles persist
  • Georgia upsets Auburn on the road 91-86, Auburn came in as 9 point favorites

Bracketology: SEC Outlook

02/02/21

The Southeastern Conference has long been known as a football conference. With an influx of respected new coaches the conference is now looking to make a name for itself as a serious contender in NCAA basketball. Beyond Kentucky the SEC is not exactly full of elite basketball schools and often is forgotten by the time March Madness roles around.

This year could be different for a lot of reasons. While the Blue Bloods of college basketball struggle we have seen what may very well be the strongest conference the SEC has put forth in recent history. The conference is ranked 3rd in the NCAA for first time since 2007 according to KenPom’s conference standings and they look poised to send six different schools to the big dance in 2021.

The Prospects

*Seeding is provided from bracketmatrix.com where they have compiled rankings from over 30 leading bracketoligists based on past accuracy*

Alabama Crimson Tide: 14-4 (9-0)

Best Seed: 1

Worst Seed: 4

Consensus: 2

The Crimson Tide must have decided football dominance wasn’t enough. In Nate Oat’s second season they have surged in SEC play boasting an undefeated record. This has bracketmatrix listing them as a solid 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Three pointers make up over 40% of their points which is the 11th highest clip in the country. Behind a dangerous 3 point attack and the 8th ranked defense the Tide have all but locked up a spot in the Big Dance.

My Projection: 3 Teams are slowly figuring out their offense and living and dying by the 3 ball makes you vulnerable at all times. I imagine we see them drop a couple unexpected games down the stretch (that is relatively easy) to finish 21-6 and enter March Madness as a strong 3 seed and the SEC’s highest ranked team. Don’t be surprised if this team ends up in the Final 4 or if they get bounced by a mid major in the round of 64.

Tennessee Volunteers: 12-3 (5-3)

Best Seed: 2

Worst Seed: 5

Consensus: 3

After an incredibly hot start, Rick Barne’s Volunteers have sputtered in SEC play. It is difficult to pin point what is holding them back right now but they have the benefit of a potential hall of fame coach in Rick Barnes. This squad has found success by shutting down opponents earning them the 2nd highest defensive adjusted efficiency in the country.

My Projection: 4 After a 12-0 start we have seen this team struggle in recent games (other than a blowout win against Kansas). I like the experience and size and they have a top 3 (and he is not 3) coach in the conference. I have this squad finishing at 18-6 and being a high end 4 seed come march. This team will be poised for a sweet 16 run with a high floor (round of 32) but probably a ceiling around the Elite 8.

Missouri Tigers: 11-3 (4-3)

Best Seed: 2

Worst Seed: 7

Consensus: 4

Quick disclaimer: I hate the University of Missouri. I am trying my best to see good in this team but I am not exactly crazy about Cuonzo Martin’s best team in his tenure at Missouri. They have a balanced attack with an offense that ranks slightly higher in efficiency than their defense, and a team that spreads the scoring around. After a good start to the season and a huge win over a solid Illinois squad the Tigers are looking ready to play in the NCAA tournament in 2021.

My Projection: 9 Again, I hate the school so take this with a grain of salt I suppose. This team can be boring to watch but has a nice blend of experience and talent. With good depth and a balanced attack they can break opponents down and stick with some of the best in the country. Between a lackluster start to conference play and an a difficult back slate on their conference schedule I have the Tigers finishing at 15-8 and a high 9 seed in the tournament. Low upside but could potentially sneak their way into the Sweet 16.

Florida Gators: 10-4 (6-3)

Best Seed: 4

Worst Seed: 8

Consensus: 6

Mike White might be putting together his best coaching performance yet as the Gators are heating up coming into the back half of the SEC schedule. They’ve relied on offensive play with a respectable defense to win 7 of their last 10 games including a huge win over West Virginia this past weekend. With a solid offensive attack they can score the ball well and look to continue their recent success into the back half of SEC play.

My Projection: 4 The Gators have a relatively easy back half of the schedule and look poised to get better as the season moves on. I expect them to work their way to a 17-6 record and with a big wins over the likes of @West Virginia, Tennessee, and LSU already I expect them to climb to the 6 seed in March Madness. A team that can hang with the majority of the field but lacks true giant killer capabilities beyond the Sweet 16.

LSU Tigers 11-5 (6-3)

Best Seed: 7

Worst Seed: OUT

Consensus: 10

Will Wade (aka the American Gangster), has his Tiger’s in good form halfway through conference play. This team relies almost solely on offensive efficiency where they rank 6th in the country compared to their underwhelming defense (143rd). They are yet to put together a marquee win this season but will have ample opportunity over the next few weeks after dropping a heart breaker against a solid Texas Tech team.

My Projection: 8 Despite missing that one “big win” the Tigers are formidable opponent for anyone they cross. In college basketball having a high powered offense with a struggling defense is not ideal but it could position you to compete with some of the best teams in the country. I expect LSU to pick up a win against at least one (probably 2) of the following upcoming matchups: @Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, @Arkansas. Winning two of these games would have LSU primed for 16-8 finish and a big upgrade in their resume.

Arkansas Razorbacks: 13-5 (5-4)

Best Seed: 6

Worst Seed: OUT

Consensus: 11

My Razorbacks are one of the more interesting bubble teams in the country and a lot of people cannot get a read on them. Similar to LSU, they are missing any win that would excite the selection committee but are still considered a tournament team at the moment. They struggled through two blowout losses consecutively at the hands of Alabama and LSU (both on the road) but have since bounced back. A heartbreaker in Stillwater robbed the Hogs of their second Quad 1 victory this past weekend.

My Projection: 10

I think the experts have it right on this one and the hogs have been about as predictable as a team could be in the win/loss column this season. Apart from a potential road victory @Missouri I have a have to imagine that the hogs win the games they should win and lose the games they should lose moving forward. Of course the Hogs are returning nearly nothing this season in terms of scoring (apart from Desi Sills) so in theory they should improve as time goes on under the obsessive Eric Musselman. This would have the hogs right around 18-9 to finish the year with the worst strength of schedule in the SEC. I don’t see this team being any sort of Cinderella come March but could work their way past the first round.

Finally, and I hate to say this, but I would be shocked if Kentucky didn’t at least make the semifinals in the conference tournament (assuming there is one but that is another conversation). The Wildcats are loaded with talent and if they somehow get it together down the stretch they have the talent to win the conference tournament and earn an automatic bid. Not likely. But I am not counting them out just yet.