Hogs have grip, not lock, on NCAA bid
Riding a five-game winning streak, their longest in SEC play, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Razorbacks have obviously received heroics from several sources.
Dusty Hannahs is a constant sword in the side of opponents who focus on the UA’s senior guard. He sparks runs with his dead-eye shooting.
Jaylen Barford lit up South Carolina for 23 points. Daryl Macon burned Ole Miss for 30. Manny Watkins consistently gets a big steal or rebound, and he’s one of the team’s most unselfish players, always looking for the guy with a higher percentage shot.
Moses Kingsley blocks so many shots, he alters about half
the others in the paint.
Bench help has come from many, but in the past four games, must-win games for the Hogs, no one has stepped up bigger than junior forward Trey Thompson, the 6-9 junior from tiny Madison.
Thompson was averaging 12 minutes, 2.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game before the past four games.
He’s more than doubled those numbers since, averaging 22 minutes, 5.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and an amazing 3.5 assists per game.
Thompson, who has led the team in assists in three of the past four games, sees the whole court as well as anyone, and that’s one of the main reasons the Hogs are averaging 86.5 points per game the past four outings.
Coach Mike Anderson has gotten very comfortable playing Kingsley and Thompson at the same time, and that’s given opponents fits at times.
Thompson has made Arkansas, now tied for third in the SEC standings with South Carolina at 11-5, a better team. The Razorbacks are 22-7 overall, and spring fever is spelled m-a-r-c-h m-a-d-n-e-s-s.
Right now, the Razorbacks appear to be in the NCAA Tournament, but they are a bubble team, mostly because of the road loss to Missouri, which still weighs heavy on their resume.
The Hogs close out the regular season this week at Florida on Wednesday and at home Saturday against Georgia for Razorback Senior Day, and this group of seniors, Hannahs, Watkins and Kingsley, deserves to go out to a standing ovation. The game tips at 1 p.m.
Arkansas is not a lock for the NCAA Tournament.
The Big Dance breaks down like this: There are 32 automatic bids to conference tournament winners (that includes the Ivy League, which doesn’t have a league tournament) and 36 at-large berths.
Using Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, Arkansas is No. 41, making it the 27th team on the atlarge team list. That’s a little wiggle room, but not a ton.
Jerry Palm of CBSsports. com has the Hogs as a No. 10 seed and Joe Lunardi of ESPN has them a No. 9.
He also has Vanderbilt in a play-in game at a No. 12 seed. Vanderbilt’s final two regular-season games are against Kentucky and Florida.
The selection committee looks at head-to-head competition, and Arkansas won at South Carolina, the team it is tied with in the standings.
In fact, until the Gamecocks (21-8) beat Tennessee last Saturday, they appeared to be on a dire slide. They had lost 3 in a row, 4 of 5, and looked like they were going to repeat last season’s flop when they lost five of their last eight and fell off the NCAA Tournament bubble.
South Carolina might still have a little work to do, and most likely so do the Razorbacks, who are on the bubble today but have a difficult week ahead of them.
WALLY HALL LIKE IT IS