This time of year tends to bring out all of the knee-jerk reactions, especially when it comes to teams on the NCAA tournament bubble. Win and you’re a “lock” to dance; lose and you’re headed to the NIT. But the fact of the matter is that the selection committee doesn’t go through the process of filling out the bracket with that attitude, and they have to find 36 at-large teams somehow.
That being said, Arkansas didn’t help its case to be included with their 71-69 loss to South Carolina in the second round of the SEC tournament. Sindarius Thornwell led the Gamecocks with 17 points and Laimonas Chatkevicius added 16 to go along with seven rebounds off the bench. Frank Martin’s team shot just 38.3% from the field and committed 15 turnovers, but they were able to control the boards (40-24 rebounding edge) and score ten more points from the foul line (30-20).
Coty Clarke led four Razorbacks in double figures with 13 points, but they were unable to take advantage of their 19 points off of 15 South Carolina turnovers due to the rebounding and free throw issues. As a result, all that Mike Anderson’s team can do is wait and hope that there’s enough on their resume to earn an at-large bid.
Within SEC play Arkansas’ two best wins came at the expense of Kentucky, and their best non-conference wins came against fellow bubble teams SMU and Minnesota. With an RPI of 58 entering Thursday’s action and a resume away from Fayetteville that isn’t all that impressive, the Razorbacks and their fans won’t rest easy in the days leading up to Selection Sunday.
But even with that being the case the fact that the committee has to find 36 teams means that there’s still some hope for Arkansas, regardless of how slim that may be.