The old phrase “numbers never lie” is one of the greatest fallacies in the argumentative game.
Arkansas basketball has discovered that this season.
Despite a whole slew of data that suggests the Razorbacks are one of the best 20 teams in college basketball, Arkansas finds itself on the NCAA Tournament with just one regular-season game left. The Hogs are likely not on the wrong side of the bubble, perhaps, but there nonetheless and a loss to Kentucky on Saturday would be the team’s third straight heading into the SEC Tournament. Not exactly finishing strong.
Those metrics are just so quality, though, that most prognosticators agree it would be tough to keep Arkansas out of the Big Dance.
ESPN Bubble Watch writer John Gasaway updated his piece on Wednesday around lunch. In the SEC, he listed Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas A&M as “in” for the Tournament. In the first position under the heading “Should be in” were those Razorbacks.
“The metrics agree: Arkansas is one of the 15 or 20 strongest teams in the country, but at 19-11, the Razorbacks haven’t produced a body of work to match,” Gasaway wrote. “Teams meeting this description tend to be seeded in the neighborhood of the No. 8 line. That’s exactly where you’ll find Eric Musselman’s group in the mock brackets.”
A win over Kentucky at Bud Walton Arena on senior day would all but ensure the Razorbacks are no worse than that. Combine a victory against the Wildcats with a fairly deep run through the conference tournament, and the number next to Arkansas’ name on Selection Sunday will be lower, still.