Image Courtesy: Whole Hog Sports
The 2023-2024 Arkansas basketball team should again be fantastic under Eric Musselman in his fifth season as head coach. Having Trevon Brazile back and better after injury and their great group of transfers led by El Ellis, Tramon Mark, and Jeremiah Davenport should make the Razorbacks tough to beat.
Enjoy my preview below!!!
El Ellis, Grad Senior
The Louisville transfer, El Ellis’ scoring and passing ability, now on a roster with capable playmakers outside of him, will be crucial for the Razorbacks this season.
Davonte Davis, Senior
Everyone’s favorite, “Devo” Davis continues to deliver during the Madness, getting the nickname “March Devo”. His tough defensive play will continue to be a huge factor for Eric Musselman’s team as well.
Tramon Mark, Junior
The wing started every game for a one seeded Houston team last season. His tough perimeter defense and leadership ability is huge for what looks like a deep Arkansas roster.
Trevon Brazile, RS Sophomore
The biggest what if of last season for the Razorbacks is what if Brazile had not torn his ACL? Arkansas could have made a run at the Final Four if Trevon Brazile was in the lineup in March. His exciting play at power forward returns to Fayetteville for at least this season.
Makhi Mitchell, Fifth Year Senior
Makhi decided to return for another season in Fayetteville while his twin Makhel headed for the capital city of Little Rock to play for the Trojans. Mitchell’s solid play inside needs to make up for a lack of depth inside on Arkansas’ roster.
Jalen Graham, Fifth Year Senior
A good defensive season from Jalen Graham paired with his terrific one on one game inside the paint last season would give Eric Musselman a reliable front court option off the bench.
Jeremiah Davenport, Grad Senior
Davenport’s shooting ability will be crucial as the last few Razorback teams have not found quality shooting, which ended their quests for championships.
Khalif Battle, Grad Senior
A talented off ball guard, Khalif Battle has dealt with a leg injury for most of the off-season. His offensive play will be important to play second fiddle to El Ellis.
Chandler Lawson, Grad Senior
A phenomenal defender inside starred in the Razorbacks exhibition win over Purdue, doing a great job boxing out reigning national player of the year, Zach Edey.
Denijay Harris, Grad Senior
Harris was a huge late addition in the off-season as the Razorbacks needed frontcourt depth following Makhel Mitchell’s exit to UALR.
Joseph Pinion, Sophomore
Unless Pinion improves defensively, the sharpshooting guard will not see much time on the court.
Layden Blocker, Freshman
Layden Blocker’s fearlessness on defense could get him on the court during his first season in Fayetteville.
Baye Fall, Freshman
Baye Fall is important to Arkansas this season because of the depth he provides in the frontcourt. With Makhel Mitchell transferring out, it will just be Trevon Brazile, Makhi Mitchell, Jalen Graham, and himself
2023 Class (per 247sports composite)
16.Baye Fall (#3C) Denver, CO (Accelerated Schools)
23.Layden Blocker (#4PG) Little Rock, AR (Sunrise Christian)
Tramon Mark, Guard (Senior) Former School: Houston
El Ellis, Guard (Senior) Former School: Louisville
Jeremiah Davenport, Forward (Senior) Former School: Cincinnati
Khalif Battle, Guard (Junior) Former School: Temple
Keyon Menifield, Guard (Sophomore) Former School: Washington
*Will be non-scholarship redshirt during the 2023-2024 season*
2023-2024 Schedule Predictions
11/6 Alcorn State (8 PM ET, SECN+)
Projected Result: Win Record: 1-0 (0-0) SEC
11/10 Gardner-Webb (8 PM ET, SECN+)
Projected Result: Win Record: 2-0 (0-0) SEC
11/13 Old Dominion (8 PM ET, SECN+)
Projected Result: Win Record: 3-0 (0-0) SEC
11/17 UNC-Greensboro (8 PM ET, SECN+)
Projected Result: Win Record: 4-0 (0-0) SEC
11/22-11/24 Battle 4 Atlantis (Paradise Island, Bahamas)
11/22 Stanford (7:30 PM ET, ESPNU)
Projected Result: Win Record: 4-0 (0-0) SEC
11/23 Memphis/Michigan (2:30/7:30 PM ET, ESPN/ESPNU)
Projected Result: Win Record: 5-0 (0-0) SEC
11/24 TBD (TBA, ESPN/2/U)
Projected Result: Loss Record: 5-1 (0-0) SEC
11/29 Duke (ACC/SEC Challenge) (9:15 PM ET, ESPN)
Projected Result: Loss Record: 5-2 (0-0) SEC
12/4 Furman (8 PM ET, SECN+)
Projected Result: Win Record: 6-2 (0-0) SEC
12/9 Oklahoma (Crimson & Cardinal Classic) (Tulsa) (4 PM ET, ESPN2)
Projected Result: Win Record: 7-2 (0-0) SEC
12/16 Lipscomb (North Little Rock) (6 PM ET, SECN+)
Projected Result: Win Record: 8-2 (0-0) SEC
12/21 Abilene Christian (7 PM ET, SECN)
Projected Result: Win Record: 9-2 (0-0) SEC
12/30 UNC-Wilmington (7 PM ET, SECN)
Projected Result: Win Record: 10-2 (0-0) SEC
1/6 Auburn (TBA, ESPN2)
Projected Result: Win Record: 11-2 (1-0) SEC
1/10 @ Georgia (9 PM ET, ESPN2/U)
Projected Result: Win Record: 12-2 (2-0) SEC
1/13 @ Florida (5 PM ET, ESPN)
Projected Result: Loss Record: 12-3 (2-1) SEC
1/16 Texas A&M (9 PM ET, SECN)
Projected Result: Win Record: 13-3 (3-1) SEC
1/20 South Carolina (1 PM ET, SECN)
Projected Result: Win Record: 14-3 (4-1) SEC
1/24 @ Ole Miss (9 PM ET, ESPN2/U)
Projected Result: Win Record: 15-3 (5-1) SEC
1/27 Kentucky (6 PM ET, ESPN)
Projected Result: Loss Record: 15-4 (5-2) SEC
1/31 @ Missouri (7 PM ET, SECN)
Projected Result: Loss Record: 15-5 (5-3) SEC
2/3 @ LSU (12 PM ET, ESPN/2)
Projected Result: Win Record: 16-5 (6-3) SEC
2/10 Georgia (6 PM ET, SECN)
Projected Result: Win Record: 17-5 (7-3) SEC
2/14 Tennessee (9 PM ET, ESPN2)
Projected Result: Loss Record: 17-6 (7-4) SEC
2/17 @ Mississippi State (2 PM ET, ESPN/2)
Projected Result: Win Record: 18-7 (8-4) SEC
2/20 @ Texas A&M (7 PM ET, ESPN)
Projected Result: Loss Record: 18-8 (8-5) SEC
2/24 Missouri (12 PM ET, ESPN/2)
Projected Result: Win Record: 19-8 (9-5) SEC
2/27 Vanderbilt (9 PM ET, SECN)
Projected Result: Win Record: 20-8 (10-5) SEC
3/2 @ Kentucky (1:30 PM ET, CBS)
Projected Result: Win Record: 21-8 (11-5) SEC
3/6 LSU (7 PM ET, SECN)
Projected Result: Win Record: 22-8 (12-5) SEC
3/9 @ Alabama (12 PM ET, ESPN)
Projected Record: Loss Record: 22-9 (12-6) SEC
3/13-17 SEC Tournament (Nashville)
2023-2024 Schedule Thoughts:
I do not think nine losses would be a bad thing for what should be a terrific Arkansas team during the 2023-2024 season. The SEC is so much better than it has been with likely NCAA Tournament teams Tennessee, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Alabama and tournament hopefuls Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, Florida, and Ole Miss. While Arkansas took a questionable mid-major loss to Hofstra in Little Rock in 2021, they bounced back during November and December of 2022, not losing any of the games against lesser competition last season. So, I project the Razorbacks to not lose any of the games against Alcorn State, Gardner-Webb, Old Dominion, UNC-Greensboro, Furman, Lipscomb, Abilene Christian, and UNC-Wilmington, giving them an 8-0 record through those games. Arkansas does challenge themselves outside of those games, facing pre-season AP #2 Duke, in the first annual ACC-SEC Challenge on November 29. The battle versus the Blue Devils in what could be the biggest game in Bud Walton Arena ever,. The match up with Duke immediately follows a trip to the Bahamas for the Razorbacks where they open with Stanford in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Depending on the result against the Cardinal, the Razorbacks will face Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers or Juwan Howard’s Michigan Wolverines. Then, depending on the semifinal or consolation game result, they could face pre-season AP #19 North Carolina, #22 Villanova, a rejuvenated Texas Tech team under new head coach Grant McCasland, or NCAA Tournament mainstay Northern Iowa. A week and a half after facing the Blue Devils, Arkansas will face Oklahoma in the final Crimson & Cardinal Classic as nonconference foes in Tulsa before the Sooners jump ship to the SEC. Arkansas avenged their loss to the Sooners in 2021, with a great performance by junior Ricky Council and freshmen Nick Smith Jr., Anthony Black, and Jordan Walsh in the second half to win the 2022 match up. If the Razorbacks lose versus Duke, the Oklahoma game becomes a must win game, especially with Sooners’ head coach Porter Moser nearing hot seat talk. The Razorbacks begin SEC play against Auburn, who has quickly become an SEC rival during Eric Musselman’s tenure in Fayetteville. In February of 2022, the Razorbacks upset the then number one ranked Tigers in Fayetteville. Nearly a year later, Auburn avenged their loss to the Razorbacks at Auburn Arena. The two teams played again in the 2023 SEC Tournament, with Nick Smith Jr. hitting a game winner in the final seconds to give Arkansas a win to secure their spot as an eight seed in the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas should protect their home court in this game and should at least split their road trip against Mike White and Georgia (W) and at Florida (L), where they rarely win in Gainesville. The Razorbacks must split with Texas A&M, who is perceived as a pre-season favorite in the SEC. The Razorbacks must win versus SEC bottom dweller South Carolina but a trip to Oxford to face new Ole Miss head coach Chris Beard and new Rebels roster full of talent will be tough to beat. Arkansas faces Kentucky twice for the second consecutive season. The Razorbacks went in to Rupp Arena and got its second consecutive win in Lexington but a month later ended their regular season with a loss to the Wildcats in Fayetteville. Arkansas will look to sweep Missouri for the first time in the Eric Musselman era while LSU and Georgia feel like teams the Razorbacks can sweep. Arkansas hosts Tennessee in what should be a fun game on Valentine’s Day. This will be a make or break game to win over the Volunteers if the Razorbacks want to be a sure fire top four seed on Selection Sunday on March 17. Mississippi State and Vanderbilt have posed problems for Arkansas over the last few seasons so winning those games against who feel like inferior competition. Arkansas has to end the season at Alabama, as the Razorbacks have not hosted the Tide but twice over the last seven meetings against Alabama. A win over the Crimson Tide would launch the Razorbacks into the SEC Tournament as favorites in Nashville and then into March Madness as a top seed.