Basketball

Underdog Razorbacks Silence the Doubters

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After a rocky start in SEC play (0-3), the Arkansas Razorbacks were basically written off by most national media “experts”. However, the Hogs turned their season around and finished 13-5 and in 3rd place in SEC standings. They are a 4 seed in this season’s NCAA Tournament. All of that doesn’t matter to the college basketball analysts of the world like Jay Bilas who said on national TV that Arkansas would lose to Vermont in the first round. Bilas wasn’t the only one who picked Vermont to beat Arkansas, many others did the same. The Hogs silenced the doubters by beating Vermont 75-71. That was a tough win to get for Arkansas. Vermont has a very good basketball team. Vermont is a very well-coached, veteran team that may have been underseeded. Their ball-screen offense gave Arkansas problems the entire game, but the Razorbacks prevailed.

The 12th seed New Mexico St. Aggies were Arkansas’s second-round match-up. And just like before, all of the college basketball talking heads picked the Hogs to lose again. Jay Bilas led the charge saying Arkansas would not be able to contain New Mexico St’s Teddy Allen. I guess Bilas doesn’t know about Au’Diese Toney, Arkansas’ top defender. Toney is almost always the guy guarding the other team’s best player. Toney did a heck of a job shutting down Teddy Allen. Allen was held to just 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting. In the end, the Razorbacks won an ugly game 53-48, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.

I can’t understand why all of the college basketball pundits are overlooking a good Arkansas team. I suppose these people turned their backs on the Hogs after the 0-3 start in SEC. Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman went with a bigger starting line-up that turned into SEC wins. The Hogs beat Auburn, Kentucky, and Tennessee, yet all of that means nothing to the “experts” at ESPN. Between January and March, Arkansas lost just four games by a grand total of 11 points. Again this means nothing to the college basketball windbags on TV. It’s baffling how these people give the Hogs no respect at all.

This Razorback team has embraced the underdog role. They use it to their advantage; it adds fuel to the fire. Arkansas will play Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. The Zags are probably the best team on paper in the tournament. And the Hogs will have to play a near-perfect game to win Thursday night. Again nobody is giving Arkansas a chance to beat Zags. However, this is March Madness and anything can happen. All of the Sweet 16 teams are stellar. And every team still dancing has got players, running with the big boys now. It’s fine that Jay Bilas doesn’t think much of this Arkansas team. They’ll keep using it to their advantage.

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