The Tigers travel to Fayetteville to face the red hot Razorbacks. LSU is coming off an ugly loss against Georgia while the Hogs are riding an eight game conference winning streak.
What the metrics say:
Arkansas: 18th in Ken Pom
LSU: 29th in Ken Pom
When Arkansas Has the Ball
The Hogs are starting to find their stride on offense. They have increased their offensive efficiency in almost all of their last 9 appearances. This can be attributed to a wide variety of changes. Justin Smith has taken a larger role while Devo Davis and Jaylin Williams have seen increases in usage. The Hogs do not shoot the three-ball very well but have executed at the rim at a much higher clip. Look for Arkansas to push the tempo especially in transition where Devo Davis has really thrived.
The first 6 games of conference play. They struggled in the paint missing 108 shots through six games.
The last eight games for the Razorbacks. Note an increase from midrange in the paint, 34% to 41%, and an increase below the rim, 57% to 69%.
When LSU Has the Ball
The Tigers have a dangerous offense with multiple elite scorers. Freshman Cameron Thomas leads all scorers with 22 points per game. He is followed closely by Ja’vonte Smart and Trendon Watford who are both averaging 16 points per game. They move fast on offense typically avoiding any shot clock pressure. They rely on attacking the rim instead of shooting from beyond the arc. Expect Mussleman to force them to stay out on the perimeter to get them out of their normal offense. The 7th ranked offense will be hard to slow down but the Razorback defense has been impressive of late. This game could easily come down to if LSU knocks down the three ball as Arkansas will likely give them some good looks from deep.
This will undoubtedly be a high-scoring affair. Metrics favor the Hogs and Vegas agrees with the Razorbacks opening as four-point favorites. This number has since been pushed to around a six-point favorite as heavy money comes in on the hot Arkansas team. The Hogs lost the last matchup 92-76 but this is not the same Razorback team. The biggest advantage may be in coaching. Will Wade has looked shaky with a loaded roster the majority of the season while Eric Musselman continues to impress. With the game being in Fayetteville, I am going side with the Hogs with 70% confidence.
A personality test to determine which Razorback basketball player you are. This is purely based on the style of play as I don’t know any of them personally. Feel free to share your results on Twitter and tag the website: D1CollegeHoops.com
A look into which teams have hopes of making the Big Dance as they enter the backstretch of regular season play.
*Seeding is provided from bracketmatrix.com where they have compiled rankings from over 30 leading bracketologists based on past accuracy*
Alabama 18-6 (13-2)
Best Seed: 2 // Worst Seed: 3 // Consensus: 2
The Tide are still looking like they will easily finish as the regular season conference champions in SEC. That being said, Nate Oats team has sputtered of late. Most recently they fell by 15 points to the Razorbacks in Fayetteville. They still are far and away the best team in the SEC from a metrics standpoint with the 29th ranked AdjO and 4th ranked AdjD.
My prediction: 3, Alabama is a very dangerous team for many reasons. They shoot a ton of threes and make 36% of them. They pair their fast-paced offense with lockdown defense that works to push teams late into the shot clock. I like Alabama against the majority of the teams in the country but they need to right the swaying ship before March. I see this as a team that can beat anyone and has Final 4 potential. I don’t like their chances against the likes of Gonzaga/Baylor/Michigan.
The Hogs currently hold the SEC’s longest conference winning streak at eight wins. Many were worried after the 2-4 start to conference play but the doubters have since been silenced. They have relied on a stingy defense, ranked 15th in the country, to attack teams weaknesses. Eric Musselman has proven to be one of the best coaches in the conference this year as Arkansas looks prepared each and every game.
My prediction: 4, The red hot Razorbacks look to continue their success against LSU at home this Saturday. If they can win out in the regular season and win a game in the SEC tournament they will be positioned to earn a 3 seed. Regardless of seeding, they are one of the hottest teams in all of college basketball that looks poised to compete with nearly anyone. The Hogs have won every game they have been predicted to win so I see them with a high floor with a decent ceiling come March.
The Volunteers rely on their 3rd ranked defense and a slow pace. This has led to a respectable season. However, some would consider it to be an underperformance for a highly anticipated Tennessee team led by Rick Barnes. They struggle to score at times and are coming off a recent home loss to Kentucky where they were ultimately dismantled over 40 minutes of play.
My prediction: 5, The Volunteers have taken care of business for the most part against inferior teams but lacks any big wins at the moment. They are a team that should make it past the the round of 64 but does not seem to have high upside. That being said, they do have two five start freshman who are liable to change the trajectory of this team down the stretch.
The Tigers have been very uninspiring of late. They suffered three straight losses including two with their star forward, Jeremiah Tilmon, missing due to a death in the family. Missouri is an interesting team that could move anywhere in seeding over the next few weeks. They don’t impress from a metrics standpoint, 39th AdjO and 65th AdjD, but that doesn’t take into account Tilmon’s absence.
My prediction:10, The Tigers have to face Florida and LSU to finish up the season. If they drop both they will very much be a bubble team. I am surprised anyone has this team above the 8/9 line and see them ending up somewhere between 8-10. I think they sneed into March Madness to find an early exit.
Floor: OUT // Ceiling: Round of 32 // Guess: Round of 64
Florida 12-6 (8-5)
Best Seed: 5 // Worst Seed: 10 // Consensus: 7
Florida is a very balanced team, 34th AdjO and 26th AdjD, that has done well so far this year. Their resume stacks up nicely with wins at West Virginia and at home against Tennessee and LSU. Apart from a pari of ugly losses (Kentucky and South Carolina) the Gators look poised for post season play.
My prediction: 6, I like the Gators. They use a nice blend of guard play and are good in the paint as well. Their balanced approach leaves few weaknesses. Look for the Gators to surprise some teams down the stretch.
Will Wade is managing to waste a very talented LSU team yet again. They are as talented as anyone in the conference but have not performed at a high level. They have a dangerous offense, 7th AdjO, but struggle on defense with the 155th ranked AdjD. They have two opportunities to improve their resume to end the season at Arkansas and against Missouri.
My prediction:7 The Tigers success will depend heavily on their seeding. They truly have the talent to beat anyone in the country but are inconsistent. They may be the toughest team to predict in March Madness. If they end up on the 8/9 line I would not want them in my bracket as a 1 seed.
Floor: Round of 64 // Ceiling: Final 4 // Guess: Round of 32
Ole Miss 13-9 (8-7)
Best Seed: 11 // Worst Seed: OUT // Consensus: OUT
The Rebels are currently on the outside looking in. What seemed impossible has changed as they have won five of their last six. They have an easy last three games and would need all three to move into the tournament. They struggle offensively but hold the 17th best defense in the country. They are led by Devontae Shuler and Romello White.
My prediction:11, I think Ole Miss could very well sneak into the tournament. While it is an uphill battle they have looked up to the challenge of late. No one is going to want to see this team in the SEC tournament. The Rebels are looking great but I wouldn’t consider them a serious threat in the tournament.
Floor: OUT// Ceiling: Round of 32 // Guess: Round of 64
I have said all year I am not counting Kentucky out. At this point it would take a conference tournament championship to make the Big Dance but that isn’t impossible. Calipari has the young Wildcats playing better almost every week. Most recently, Kentucky knocked off Tennessee on the road in domination fashion. Do not be surprised to see them in the conference finals in early March.
Despite dealing with COVID-19, college basketball is about as entertaining as it has ever been this season. In a year where Blue Bloods have struggled we have seen a wide range of teams take the national spotlight. While Gonzaga, Baylor, and Michigan seem to be in a class of their own, that could change on any given night. I am a believer in using advanced metrics to evaluate talent, but there is obviously way more to it than that. Here are my 25 best teams in college basketball right now based on advanced metrics and how I view their current trajectory.
Gonzaga (+1) The Zags are back on top as they continue their pursuit of a perfect season. On offense, they can score on all levels as they push the ball down the court. With the best effective FG% in the country while playing faster than almost any team, the Bulldogs look like favorites to win it all this season.
Baylor (-1) “There is no such thing as a bad win”. Well… going down to the wire with a 2-17 Iowa State team is about as ugly of a win as you can get. Granted, they were coming off a lengthy COVID break. The Bears absolutely have the ability to win it all, but their last game finally separated them from Gonzaga’s dominance from a metrics standpoint.
Michigan (–) The Wolverines are hot. With only one loss to a dangerous Minnesota team, they are not far behind Baylor at this point in time. Their win at Ohio State may be the most impressive performance by any team this season. Michigan relies on a good balance of offensive and defensive ability as they take a methodical approach in terms of pace.
Ohio State (+1) Despite a loss at home, I still love this Ohio State team. Very similar to Iowa, they can hang with anyone with their elite scoring ability. That being said, they also struggle on defense where they rank 86the in AdjD. This is a team that no one will want to see in March and is being coached at an elite level.
Illinois (-1) This is the least confident I have been about a top 5 team all year. The Illini are well balanced but rely too heavily on the play of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. If I am a 15 seed in the tournament I would be praying to match up with this team. At the same time, this team has the ability to hang with anyone but lacks consistency.
Iowa (–) It is a thing of beauty to watch the Hawkeyes on offense. They have the best AdjO. in the country and are seriously dangerous from deep. Not to mention Luka Garza torturing every opposing big man he faces. It’s a mystery how they are so bad on defense but they can typically make up for it on the offensive end. Watch for a massive matchup tonight against Michigan.
Houston (+3) The Cougars are a difficult team to get a read on. With losses to Tulsa, ECU, and Wichita State they have an ugly resume. It is worth noting that they perform very well metrically coming in at 5 on Ken Pom, 6 on NET, 7 on Sagarin, and 8 on Massey. Kelvin Sampson leads a physical squad that is good on both sides of the ball. Will be one of the most interesting teams to look for in March.
USC (–) Evan Mobley. The 7’0 freshman is one of the best players in the country and possibly the best prospect in college basketball. Averaging 17 points per game with nearly 8 rebounds and 3 blocks he is as versatile as they come. The Trojans rank 19th in AdjO and 14th AdjD to round out a very good basketball team.
Florida State (+3) Leonard Hamilton has to be one of the most underrated coaches in basketball. The Seminoles weaponize the three-point shot to create a powerful offensive attack. Florida State has won their last four games and nine of its last ten. Their resume isn’t anything special but includes wins over Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina.
Alabama (-3) The Tide have sputtered a little of late but are still a very formidable opponent. They push the ball on offense as fast as almost anyone in the country. This paired with their 4th ranked defense makes for a dangerous team. With a blend of height and experience, they are not easily rattled and are never out of a contest with their three-point ability.
Arkansas (+4) The Razorbacks may very well be the hottest team in the country right now. They are riding an 8 game conference win streak with all of their resume-building wins in the last couple of weeks. With the emergence of Justin Smith, Jalen Tate, Devo Davis, Jaylin Williams, and Connor Vanover this last month they have as much depth as almost anyone in college basketball. All of that being said, Hog fans may need to pump the brakes a little bit. I have seen far too many “Final 4” tweets over the last 24 hours. The Razorbacks have moved into the 5 seed line in most bracketologists minds, but this is college basketball, who is to say what will happen over the next few weeks. One thing you can count on is Eric Musselman will have his players prepared as they can possibly be going into each game. The Hogs are looking like a team with a floor in the round of 32 and a ceiling as high as the Elite 8.
West Virginia (+2)
Texas Tech (-3)
Loyola-Chicago (Newly Ranked)
BYU (Newly Ranked)
Dropped from Rankings: San Diego State and LSU
Biggest Movers Up: Arkansas +4
Biggest Movers Down: Colorado/Virginia -8
The Razorbacks have won their last 8 conference games. On Wednesday night they knocked off No. 6 Alabama by 15 points.
The Cavaliers have dropped their last three games. Including a 21 point loss to Florida State and a 7 point loss to NC State at home.
The Razorbacks are rolling as they move down the homestretch. Riding a 7 game conference win streak, the Hogs have added a couple resume building wins. With wins at Kentucky, at Missouri, and home against Florida they have put themselves in great position for March Madness. At this point it seems like more of a question of where the Hogs will be seeded rather than if they will make the Big Dance. Arkansas fans will have to wait until Wednesday as their latest matchup with Texas A&M was postponed due to COVID in the Aggies program. The Wednesday meeting with Top 10 Alabama may very well be the biggest home game the Hogs have played in this century.
A breakdown of the latest Hog victory with highlights from WarMachine2013! Make sure you subscribe to his channel as he continues to provide the best highlights for Razorback wins!
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Arkansas 75, Florida 64
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The Hogs took care of business in Fayetteville to continue their 7 game conference win streak. The Razorbacks had multiple players step up on both sides of the ball to earn this win. Notably, Justin Smith, Devo Davis, and Jalen Tate all performed exceptionally well. Justin Smith posted a crazy stat line: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, and 2 blocks. This was nearly overshadowed by an 18 point performance from freshman Devo Davis. Arkansas has a lot to be confident about heading into College Station on Saturday. With a deep arsenal of weapons it is hard to predict who will be the key contributor on a given night, but Head Hog Eric Mussleman has done a good job managing this depth.
A breakdown of the latest Hog victory with highlights from WarMachine2013!
Arkansas 86, Missouri 81
0:09- This may seem like a simple basket, but scoring on the first possession is key for Arkansas who has struggled out of the gates
0:55- This is another example of poor perimeter defense from the Razorbacks
1:29- Devo gets caught rotating late and the Hogs give up another open 3 point shot
1:36- Great play by a Jalen Tate and Jaylin Williams to get the back door bucket
2:20- Jaylin Williams continues to impress with a smooth stroke beyond the arc, the freshman forward is continuing to progress and impress
3:05– J.D. Notae attacks the rim and creates his own shot, something that has been lacking from this Arkansas offense
3:36- Justin Smith knocks down the mid range shot, if he can add this to his game our offense would become much more threatening
3:53- One of the better drive and dish plays we have seen from Devo Davis, expect more of this as his confidence increases
4:45- If Vanover continues to shoot the long ball well there is not much the opposition can do to stop the 7’3 forward
5:48- Vanover and Moody work to get a good look from beyond the arc, Vanover’s ability to pass could change this Hog offense
6:25- Elite athleticism from Justin Smith paired with a nice pass from Desi Sill creates some momentum for the Razorbacks
6:34-6:50- Hogs give up a quick 6-0 run with poor perimeter defense, Musselman needs to find a way to improve defensive rotation down the stretch
6:57- Justin Smith, an 18% 3-point shooter, rattles on in from deep, again, if he is able to add this to his game the Razorbacks become much more of a threat with the ball
7:20- Connor Vanover actually works the post and earns a tough bucket
8:12- Not saying we should have called a timeout, but we need to get a better look than this
8:35- We have seen this set before but it will never get old, great assist by Jalen Tate and another great dunk for Justin Smith
8:57- Moses may have gotten away with an extra step but a great assist to get the easy bucket for the cutting Devo Davis
9:04- Jalen Tate. This was an all-star play that resulted in one of the more questionable calls I have ever seen, Desi Sills clearly gets the rebound but they rule it to be Missouri’s basketball (reminiscent of Auburn football game)
9:12- Another awesome play from Jalen Tate finished off by quick hands from Moses Moody to eventually secure a Razorback victory
Overall Take: This was a huge win for the Razorbacks on the road. Doesn’t matter if Missouri is missing a player. The Hogs overcame poor officiating and a road crowd to knock off 10th ranked Missouri. Arkansas will need to shore up their perimeter defense but some of that was intentional design of Eric Musselman to challenge a poor 3-point shooting team. The offense was very impressive in the first half and seems to be gaining confidence with each game. The Hogs have finally proved that they are a real threat and will look to continue that into the Florida game tonight.
In a true showdown of the “eye test” vs metrics, the unranked Razorbacks travel to Columbia to take on the 10th ranked Missouri Tigers. Despite the large gap in ranking and home court advantage, the metrics point to a real showdown on Saturday afternoon. Here are some important facts to consider in preparation for a big matchup in the SEC.
What the metrics say about Arkansas at Missouri:
Missouri: 38th in Ken Pom Rankings
Arkansas: 25th in Ken Pom Rankings
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
Jeremiah Tilmon: The 6’10 senior had a career day in the earlier matchup between the Hogs and Tigers. He went for 25 points and 11 rebounds in a dominant performance. That being said, the Razorbacks were missing a key piece in Justin Smith last time these teams met. Look for Tilmon to remain impactful but not to the same extent as their previous meeting. You will likely see the Tilmon setting picks on a regular basis, working with Xavier Pinson at the top of the key.
Xavier Pinson: Another player who imposed their will against the Hogs earlier this season. The athletic guard went for 23 points in the game in Fayetteville. He will need to step up in this matchup as the Hogs should be better protected in the paint. His ability to work in the pick and roll and share the ball will be key to the result of this matchup.
Moses Moody: The freshman star will need to step up on the road if the Hogs want to compete in this one. The young guard is averaging over 16 points per game. Look for Moody to work the midrange and perimeter to stretch the Missouri defense. If Moody is able to become the center piece of this offense the Razorbacks could become a very dangerous team.
Justin Smith: The Razorbacks were missing the Indiana transfer in a bad way in their last meeting with Missouri. Arkansas will need his physicality and defense to slow down Jeremiah Tilmon. Smith is not 100% healthy but seems to be getting healthier each game. If the Hogs were to win on the road it would be hard to pinpoint a more significant difference from the last game than Justin Smith.
This should be a great game in Columbia. The Tigers will look to get back on track after a 21 point loss to Ole Miss in their last game. The Razorbacks will look to add an elusive marquee win to their resume. The Tigers are favored by half a point in Vegas, essentially making this one a toss-up. Ken Pom has Missouri winning 76-75 while Haslametrics also has it as a coin flip with a prediction of Missouri 76.67, Arkansas 76.58. Expect Musselman to have a few answers to the Missouri pick and roll game but it will still be hard for the Razorbacks to overcome the 10th ranked team in the country.
I expect this to be one of the most competitive games of the year. If the Hogs lose it will be damaging from a metrics standpoint, but nothing too detrimental. In a way the Hogs have a ton to gain and not a much to lose in this matchup. A road victory over a top 10 team is exactly what the Razorbacks need on their resume but is much easier said than done. Look for Eric Musselman to utilize some half-court traps to disrupt the pick and roll game. If Missouri executes from the perimeter they will be heavily favored to come out with a win. The Razorbacks need to avoid a slow start and play aggressive in transition. Again, I could see this going either way but it just feels like the Hogs are ready to get over the hump. In true battle of metrics vs the eye test I see the final outcome being:
A breakdown of the latest Hog victory with highlights from WarMachine2013!
Arkansas 81, Kentucky 80
1:19 – Vanover started off hot in this one and established an inside presence, over the last couple of games we have seen Vanover spend more time under the rim
1:31 – This really needs to be discussed, the Hogs were caught making strange traps inside of the arc that led to a handful of open threes and jump shots
1:47 – Moses runs the baseline and rubs off the shoulder of Justin Smith for a nice corner three
2:29-2:41 – This is the kind of scoring we have been missing, J.D. Notae takes the defender off the dribble to create his own three point shot two possessions in a row
3:17 – Vance Jackson continues to impress in limited minutes, it will be interesting to see if his minutes improve as he continues to be efficient on the offensive end
4:05 – Devo’s length continues to allow him to be efficient at the rim, look for his scoring to increase down the stretch of the season as his confidence does the same
5:28 – Devo’s effort serves as momentum changer for the Hogs, he sneaks back into the play to cutoff the outlet pass finishes with an impressive dish to Justin Smith
5:40-5:53 – Moses Moody strips it from fellow freshman B.J. Boston and the Hogs push the tempo, a great example of the Razorbacks aggressiveness in transition
6:00 – Moses Moody with another crazy block and the hogs push it quickly down the floor, either a smart or out of control pass (depending on who you ask) leads to another transition layup
7:18 – Another example of poor perimeter defense from the Hogs, J.D. Notae late to the spot and gives up an open three
8:01 – Jalyin Williams contests Olivier Sarr’s corner three but he makes it anyways, this was a moment that just felt like it wasn’t going to be the Hog’s night
8:15 – J.D. Notae and Jaylin Williams get cooked on a pick and roll, Arkansas will need to shore this up against teams that shoot the ball better
8:45 – Olivier Sarr knocks down another three from the top of the key to bring the Wildcats within 3
9:00-9:08 – The Wildcats make a pair of contested threes to take the lead with 12 seconds left
9:12 – Musselman demonstrates his confidence in Devo Davis as he let the freshman guard attack instead of calling a timeout and setting up a play, this speaks to his confidence in Devo Davis but could also be a result of the Razorback’s struggles inbounding the basketball
9:17 – Jalen Tate, at 6’6, grabs a rebound in the middle of an handful of taller Wildcats, effort plays like this are often the difference between a win and a loss in College Hoops
9:25 – Read below:
9:45 – Devo Davis with one of the most impressive plays of the season as he darts across the court to seal the game with a steal
Overall Take: The Hogs got Kentucky’s best game of the year and still came out with a big win. Chances are, with Kentucky’s improvement, that this matchup will count as a win for the Hogs Quad 1 record. Key play from Jalen Tate, Connor Vanover, Moses Moody, J.D. Notae, and Devo Davis illustrated the Razorback’s improved depth this season. This is arguably the Hogs best win of the season and great momentum going into a pair of key matchups against Missouri and Florida. If the Hogs can win one of the next two games they will be in prime position to make the Big Dance.
KenPom Breakdown: The Hogs moved up one spot in the KenPom rankings but this win should help anchor the Razorbacks in the top 30 barring back to back blowout losses.