Date: Saturday, February 1
Time: 5:00pm CDT
TV/Streaming: SEC Network
All-Time Series: Arkansas leads 34-28
Most Recent Matchup: March 2019, Arkansas won 82-70.
The Crimson Tide
2019-20 Record: 12-8 (4-3)
Head Coach: Nate Oats (1st season)
The Avery Johnson era was filled with disappointment in Tuscaloosa. Alabama had plenty of talent under Johnson, but seemed to underperform every single season. New Head Coach Nate Oats was hired in the offseason to change that. Like many teams with a new Head Coach, Alabama struggled to start the season. The Tide lost to Penn and Rhode Island in November.
Since then, Nate Oats has Alabama playing much better with wins over Kansas State and Auburn. In my opinion, Alabama may be the most enjoyable team to watch in this year’s SEC. They are not perfect and they sometimes take bad shots, but they are fun to watch!
Alabama’s sixth man, James Bolden, sat out on Wednesday due to illness. Oats said on Friday that Bolden is considered “day to day.” Bolden is averaging 8.4ppg in 20 minutes per game.
2019-20 Record: 15-5 (3-4)
Head Coach: Eric Musselman (1st season)
Arkansas is entering a make or break part of the season. The Hogs have lost 3 of 4 with 2 tough games looming. While losses in these next 2 games won’t keep the Hogs out of the NCAA Tournament, losing 5 out of 6 could break a team. They have been extremely resilient to this point with several comeback wins, but injuries are looming.
Isaiah Joe is still not 100% from the sore knee, Desi Sills has a sprained ankle, and Jimmy Whitt was kneed in the calf against South Carolina. Head Coach Eric Musselman is “hopeful” all three guards are able to play on Saturday.
Most bracketologists, at this point, have the Hogs as an 8 or 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A win over Alabama could boost that seeding. Alabama ranks 40th in NET, which would count as a Quadrant 1 win if the Hogs were to leave Tuscaloosa victorious.
Arkansas has won five straight games in the series; however, they are just 7-19 in Tuscaloosa. The Tide lead the league in pace. They score the ball from the 3-point land and the paint. In SEC play, Alabama ranks first in points per game and first in 3 point field goals. Where Alabama has struggled is defense and turning the ball over. Naturally, playing such a fast pace will give the opponent more opportunities on offense. Arkansas will get their chance to score the ball, but they have to start well.
I had this as a loss before the season and I will stick with that prediction. Alabama’s scoring firepower with Arkansas’ nagging injuries make me think the Tide win this one.
Score Prediction: Alabama 83, Arkansas 75
Like many in our state, I didn’t have a choice in who my favorite team would be growing up. I was raised on Razorback. I remember watching the early season games on ARSN or conference games on JP Sports. My first favorite players were Brandon Dean and Joe Johnson. Great memories. I never thought years ago I would be writing about Arkansas Basketball. I don’t have a journalism background or anything like that. When given the opportunity, I wanted to challenge myself with something new and it has been a blast!