The Biggest Game Left For The Hogs Is… LSU???
Arkansas and LSU square off tonight at 8:00 in Bud Walton. Hopefully the late start doesn’t mean we’ll see another full moon like we did last Saturday:
When Arkansas and LSU last met, the thought of making the NCAA tournament seemed unlikely. Fast forward a couple months, and now Arkansas is playing like one of the best teams in the nation.
It’s easy to look ahead to the Saturday matchup against #13 Tennessee, but this game may actually mean more.
Better stated — a loss tonight could be more impactful than a win Saturday.
LSU is unranked and currently a 6 seed according to Joe Lunardi. While the Hogs are safely in the tournament at this point, a home loss to LSU could see the Hogs drop to a 5 seed. If the Hogs were to then lose to Tennessee, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see them end up with a 6 seed.
Tennessee is ranked #13 and a 3 seed. If you beat LSU at home and lose on the road to Tenner, the Hogs would likely remain a 4 seed. Of course, ideally Arkansas wins both, which would likely move them to a 3 seed!
In other other words – if you lose today, you have to beat Tennessee for a chance at a 4 seed. If you win today, you’re suddenly playing for a likely 3 seed on Saturday.
Keys To The Game
Stop Xavier Pinson
This is a very different LSU team than the one the Razorbacks faced back in January. While the Hogs had just discovered their new lineup that would lead them back to national prominence, the Tigers had lost a critical piece in Xavier Pinson.
The former Mizzou star has been the catalyst for the Tigers. He’s quick and shifty and can score with the best of them.
For Arkansas to win, they must find a way to slow him down. Fortunately, defense has been the calling card for Coach Muss and the Razorbacks.
Attack The Rim
LSU also plays great defense and ranks second in the nation in defensive efficiency. Teams average right under 29% behind the arc against the LSU defense, and Arkansas has been spotty at best when shooting the 3 ball.
During Arkansas’ turnaround, they have been great at penetrating and attacking the rim. JD Notae has been nearly impossible for anyone to guard, Jaylin Williams has emerged as a true scoring threat, and Umude has shown the ability to be a big-time scorer.
Stay Out Of Foul Trouble
In their only loss in the previous 14 game-stretch, JD Notae was forced to sit the bench for nearly the entire first half. The Hogs have struggled on the inside when Jaylin Williams has been forced to the bench. When those two guys stay out of foul trouble, Arkansas is tough to beat.
With a big showdown looming this weekend, it would be easy to look past LSU. However, Eric Musselman has proven time and time again that he has the ability to keep his teams focused. Hogs win tonight and keep their hopes of a top 3 seed in the NCAA tournament alive:
Arkansas 74 – LSU 68