NCAA tournament team previews: Arkansas Razorbacks
As part of its preview of the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. All stats are through Monday, March 16.
Record: 26-8 (13-5 SEC)
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 113.0 (21st)/97.7 (81st)
Seed: West No. 5
Impact player: Bobby Portis, sophomore, forward. 17.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 120.1 offensive ratingVanderbilt
As a team, Arkansas rarely turns the ball over and is effective on the offensive glass, and its scoring margin (+8.5) is the best of any SEC team not named Kentucky. The Hogs have proven themselves against tournament teams like Georgia, Ole Miss and Texas A&M in conference play. They also boast wins over SMU and Dayton out of conference. Arkansas could surprise in the NCAA tournament if it doesn’t run into a worthy defense.
The Case Against: Arkansas’ offensive talent notwithstanding, the program has its share of head-scratching losses. It turned the ball over 14 times in an overtime loss at Clemson on Dec. 7. A month later, the Hogs fell 74-69 to a Tennessee team that finished 10th in the SEC. The key to many of Arkansas’ woes is rebounding. Coach Mike Anderson’s team ranks 12th in the SEC in defensive rebounding percentage (.666). Not surprisingly, it allows an opponents’ offensive rebound percentage of 33.4, which ranks 279th nationally by kenpom.com. Arkansas won’t last long in March if it can’t make foes pay for missed shots.
The Razorbacks also haven’t shined on their biggest stages this season. Iowa State—now a top-15 team—thumped Arkansas in Ames, 95-77, on Dec. 4. The Hogs were expected to give No. 1 Kentucky a run for its money in February before the Wildcats turned a 16-point halftime lead into an 84-67 win. There’s no doubt Arkansas has talent, but can it stand up against top tournament competition?
SI prediction: Beat Wofford in the Round of 64, lose to UNC in the Round of 32.