Arkansas’ road to the Final Four (plus cbhsports 2021 NCAA men’s College Basketball Tournament First Round (Round of 64) Preview)

The path to the Final Four will not be easy for the Arkansas Razorbacks, in their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2018. Back in 2017 and 2018, Arkansas made the “Big Dance” as an eight and seven seed respectively and vastly underperformed. Arkansas beat nine seed Seton Hall to open up in 2017 before losing a controversial Round of 32 game in Greenville, South Carolina to top seed North Carolina, who went on to win 2017 National Championship. Arkansas was upended about a year later when it lost in the Round of 64 to 10 seed Butler in 2018. A team with All-SEC guards Daryl Macon, Jaylen Barford, and big man Daniel Gafford (now in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls) should have won more games in the postseason, let’s be honest. But when former Nevada head coach Eric Musselman took the same job in Fayetteville in April of 2019, it all changed. In his first recruiting cycle he dominated the state of Arkansas, keeping all but one of the top five prospects in the state according to 247sports by landing four-star recruits Moses Moody (Guard, Forward), KK Robinson (Guard), Davonte (or more commonly known as Devo) Davis (Guard), and Jaylin Williams (big man). Then he added transfers Justin Smith (big man, Indiana), Jalen Tate (Guard/Forward, Northern Kentucky), Vance Jackson (big man, New Mexico State), and JD Notae (Guard, Jacksonville). All of this to say that Musselman led the hogs to a 22-6 (13-4) record in the SEC that included a 12-game winning streak, the longest in school history. Landing a three seed on Selection Sunday capped off one of the greatest regular seasons since the Nolan Richardson teams of the 1990s. But, a potential second round match up with underseeded Texas Tech, could mean an early exit for the kids from Fayetteville. But first, they have to deal with the Colgate Raiders, the champions of the Patriot League (And Tech has to battle with Utah State). So here is Arkansas’ road to the Final Four in 2021 if it played the best opponent every round.

Round of 64

14.Colgate (3/19)

Colgate comes in at number nine in the final NET Rankings, five spots ahead of Arkansas. Both can score in bunches, but Arkansas is clearly the better defensive team with elite defenders Devo Davis and Jalen Tate on the perimeter. Plus, Arkansas gets a little energy back with big man Jaylin Williams returning to the lineup on Friday.

6.Texas Tech (3/21)
This might be Arkansas’ toughest match up. Chris Beard’s team plays phenomenal defense but has a tough time getting going on offense. If they do get going, they have a phenomenal offense.

2.Ohio State (3/27)

Ohio State has been phenomenal this season. They overachieved but they are still a two seed, so if Arkansas makes it there, they will have to be focused. Guard Duane Washington and Forward EJ Liddell are the yen and yang for the Buckeyes. Arkansas and Ohio State both aren’t very big. Arkansas needs to take advantage of Ohio State’s small size. The Buckeyes are very good but Arkansas could definitely win this match up.

2021 NCAA men’s College Basketball Tournament First Round Preview

First Four

16.Texas Southern over 16.Mount St. Mary’s

11.Drake over 11.Wichita State

16.Appalachian State over 16.Norfolk State

11.Michigan State over 11.UCLA

West Region

1.Gonzaga over 16.Appalachian State

8.Oklahoma over 9.Missouri

12.UCSB over 5.Creighton

4.Virginia over 13.Ohio

6.USC over 11.Drake

3.Kansas over 14.Drake

7.Oregon over 10.VCU

2.Iowa over 15.Grand Canyon

East Region

1.Michigan over 16.Texas Southern

8.LSU over 9.St. Bonaventure

5.Colorado over 12.Georgetown

4.Florida State over 13.UNC-Greensboro

11.Michigan State over 6.BYU

3.Texas over 14.Abilene Christian

7.Connecticut over 10.Maryland

2.Alabama over 15.Iona

South Region

1.Baylor over 16.Hartford

8.North Carolina over 9.Wisconsin

12.Winthrop over 5.Villanova

4.Purdue over 13.North Texas

6.Texas Tech over 11.Utah State

3.Arkansas over 14.Colgate

7.Florida over 10.Virginia Tech

2.Ohio State over 15.Oral Roberts

Midwest Region

1.Illinois over 16.Drexel

8.Loyola-Chicago over 9.Georgia Tech

5.Tennessee over 12.Oregon State

4.Oklahoma State over 13.Liberty

6.San Diego State over 11.Syracuse

3.West Virginia over 14.Morehead State

10.Rutgers over 7.Clemson

2.Houston over 15.Cleveland State

By Carter Huff

Please enjoy all of my content :) <3-Carter.

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