Hogs Hope to Confound Experts yet Again


Another NCAA Tournament game, another game the Hogs can’t win, according to the college basketball analysts. Interesting since the challenge of beating Duke is similar going in to the challenge the Hogs faced against top ranked Gonzaga.

Like the Zags, Duke has a better overall and conference record (31-6, 16-4) (28-8, 13-5) than Arkansas. The Blue Devils shoot better than the Hogs (49%, 37%) (43%, 30%) from two and three point range.

Arkansas does have slightly better rebounding numbers ( 38.2) (37.9) than Duke with more steals (7.6) (6.4) per game. But the Hogs, who have reached the NCAA’s Elite Eight largely on the basis of defense, are about to run into a team with a slightly better scoring defense. (67.4) (68.0)

Individually Arkansas will once again go up against an opponent with five players in double figures. Duke doesn’t have the assist numbers that Gonzaga came in with but this is a team than can hurt you from the outside and in the paint. While Jaylin Williams won’t have to battle a tag team duo of bigs, 6-10, 250 lbs forward Paolo Banchero is the Blue Devils leading scorer at 17.2 points per game.

The intangibles in this game are simple. Duke is a college basketball blue blood and head coach Mike Krzyzewski is the biggest coaching name in the sport. Outside of the Razorback fanbase there won’t be much support for the Hogs in this game, especially since beating Duke would bring an end to Krzyzewski ‘s hall of fame career. There is such sentiment for Krzyzewski to finish with a sixth national championship that some believe the refs in this game will be more than willing to provide him with some extra help. That remains to be seen.

Arkansas has two basic intangibles. Its a team that has overachieved all season and is used to knocking off high profile opponents. A team that has used disrespect from the media experts as fuel for pulling off upsets.

The Hogs also have Nolan Richardson on their side. Arkansas’ national championship coach, a hall of famer himself, has predicted a Razorbacks win in each of their NCAA tournament games and he’s not backing down for the Elite Eight matchup with Duke. In fact he says Arkansas should win by anywhere from three to five points.

If he’s right, even though it’s been 20 years since he last coached at the school, it would be accurate to suggest that the Muss bus will rollin’ with Nolan into the Final Four.

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