Arkansas (20-9, 9-7) picked up their 20th win of the season in a 87-75 win over Georgia Saturday in Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas was led by senior Coty Clarke and sophomore Michael Qualls. Clarke had a career-high 23 points and Qualls scored 20 for Arkansas.
This was a battle of bubble teams. Georgia’s resume doesn’t quite say “tournament team” but with 10 wins in the SEC and a third place standing in the conference, they are under consideration. With the win, the Hogs move one step closer to clinching a bid in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.
It’s the beginning of March and Arkansas is getting hot at the right time. They have now won their last five games and seven of their last eight. Yes, that means they are on a five game winning streak at the end of the season (that’s something Arkansas basketball isn’t used to).
If Arkansas continues to keep this streak going, they are going to benefit themselves come selection time. Not only are the Hogs playing to get in the tournament but they are now playing to get a better seeding.
Of course, Arkansas has to win these last two SEC games against Ole Miss and Alabama. A loss to either of those teams could really hurt their chances of going to the tournament. But, wins almost guarantee they will be going dancing.
A huge factor in Arkansas getting a better seeding in the big dance is making a run in the SEC Tournament. It’s important for the Hogs to get some wins in the SEC tournament and by doing that they will earn a better seeding, only if they win these last two games.
An 11-seed in the NCAA tournament would be a perfect place for Arkansas. With an 11-seed you get to avoid getting matched up with the 1-and 2-seeds in the first and second round.
Seeding in the SEC is important as well. Arkansas could be anywhere from a 2-seed to a 9-seed. Kentucky needs just one more win to clinch the 2-seed but they just lost to South Carolina, so you never know what will happen. Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee are in the running for the two, three and four spots.
If there were to be a tie between Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee (which could easily happen) then Tennessee owns a tiebreaker over both teams and Arkansas owns a tiebreaker over Georgia, which means Arkansas would be the 4-seed.
There is a lot of pressure riding on these last two games this week for Arkansas. They are must win games, no questions asked. They are also two winnable games, so Arkansas is in a perfect position, but it’s all in their hands.
It’s March and Arkansas is close to going dancing, all is right in the world and Arkansas basketball is back.