Arkansas: 2017 March Madness

Conference: SEC (At-Large)

Record: 25-9 (12-6)

NCAA Tournament Seed: 8, South

How they got to the Big Dance

A team picked to finish fifth in the SEC preseason poll has slightly exceeded those expectations, earning the No. 3 seed in the SEC tournament. This is an Arkansas team that does not have an overly impressive resume, with only four top 50 RPI wins, but does not have an overwhelming amount of bad losses. Most notably, Arkansas has a win at then-No. 23 South Carolina. Its two bad losses come at home against Mississippi State and at Missouri, which finished the season at 8-24. Other than that, Arkansas has beaten and lost to who they should have. The Razorbacks have are led by senior and SEC preseason player of the year Moses Kingsley.

Why they’re a legitimate contender

The Razorbacks feature four players that average double digits: Dusty Hannahs, Daryl Macon, Jaylen Barford and Moses Kingsley. This gives Arkansas numerous offensive weapons in any game. Despite this, Arkansas still has a useful bench. Nine players have played in every game so far this season, and every one of those players except for Trey Thompson has started at least one game. These contributions from its stars and role players help Arkansas average 79.8 points per game.

Moses Kingsley, who averages 11.8 points per game and 7.8 rebounds, leads the SEC with 2.6 blocks per game. Kingsley has the potential to dominate the lane in a game, which can keep Arkansas in any game.

Why they’re not a legitimate contender

Arkansas has struggled to beat teams that are better than them. It plays in the SEC, which is the weakest of the Power Five conferences, so its third place finish is not necessarily impressive. And with a low conference strength, opportunities for big wins come few and far between. Arkansas did not take advantage of these opportunities, as it was unable to beat Florida or Kentucky this year. Also, in all of its losses, it has scored below their season average of 79.8 points a game. This reliance on their offense could hurt with the intensity of NCAA tournament games.

Furthermore, despite upperclassmen being the predominant contributors on the team, many of these players are transfers, and do not have the experience of playing together for multiple seasons. This lack of experience in the tournament could hurt Arkansas

Player to watch: F Moses Kingsley

The senior from Abuja, Nigeria is a force to be reckoned with in the paint. The 6-foot-10  forward averages 2.6 blocks per game, as well as 7.8 rebounds a contest. As a fierce offensive rebounder, he is able to keep plays going for the Razorbacks. His presence in the paint on the defensive end can really help his team create problems for other teams scoring in the paint.

However, Kingsley is averaging fewer points per game (11.8) and rebounds (7.8) than he did last year, where he averaged 15.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. This is probably a result of having other offensive options available. Still, other teams must not overlook Kingsley, because he has the potential to dominate a game around the rim.