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Mike Anderson Prepares For Return to Missouri; Razorbacks Face Must-Win Situation

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Kim Klement-USA Today Sports

Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson spent five seasons as the head man at Missouri before making the switch to the SEC prior to the 2011-12 season.

Well, it didn’t take long for the Tigers to follow suit, as their switch to the same conference went into effect prior to this year. Back on Feb. 16, Anderson got the best of his former team with a 73-71 victory over the Tigers. Now however, things are switching gears in terms of location and it comes at a do-or-die time for the Razorbacks.

So, as Anderson prepares to make his return trip to Mizzou, Arkansas is looking at the final week of the regular season as a must-win stretch. The two should go hand-in-hand, but can the Razorbacks make a statement prior to the start of the conference tournament?

Sure, Arkansas knows that they can beat Missouri considering they already have, but it’s never easier to win on the road, especially in an environment that will be welcoming back a former head coach who left them. Not too mention, Missouri is looking to avenge the loss themselves, most likely preparing for Tuesday night with a chip on their shoulder.

After an 18-14 season a year ago with no postseason finish, Anderson brought back a solid group of guys who were expected to compete within the upper half of the SEC. At 18-11 overall and 9-7 within the league, the Razorbacks have found themselves in that range, but there is still work to do as the month of March gets ready to kick into high gear.

Will Missouri exact revenge on their home coach and a team that has already beat them this season? Or, will Anderson and Arkansas go into Columbia and make a statement?

 

Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS

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2015 NCAA Tournament Profile: Arkansas Razorbacks

Record: 26-8

Region – Seed: No. 5 in the West

RPI: 17

BPI: 21

Conference: Southeastern Conference

How They Qualified: At-large

The Arkansas Razorbacks have clearly been the second-best team in the SEC this season. While the Kentucky Wildcats have garnered nearly all of the attention in the league (and the country), Arkansas has quietly put together a very good season.

Arkansas has size, athleticism and depth. Head coach Mike Anderson has his team playing the classic “40 Minutes of Hell” style that Anderson’s former boss, Nolan Richardson, employed with the Razorbacks. And it’s working, bringing excitement back to Fayetteville.

What You Need to Know:

Leading Scorer: Bobby Portis, 17.5 ppg

Leading Rebounder: Bobby Portis, 8.5 rpg

Leading Passer: Rashad Madden, 4.7 apg

Bad Losses: at Clemson, at Tennessee, at Florida

Good Wins: Over Georgia, Ole Miss, Texas A&M

Arkansas has the talent to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. However, they don’t have tournament experience, which could end up hurting them the further they go. Playing against teams with more tournament experience could end up being the downfall of this Arkansas squad.

With Portis, the SEC Player of the Year, along with Michael Qualls and Madden, the Hogs have plenty of front-line talent. Anderson must take that talent and do his best to make this team tournament ready in a hurry. If Arkansas could make a run to the Sweet 16, they would see that as a success.

Tim Letcher is a Featured Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

The Arkansas Razorbacks have clearly been the second-best team in the SEC this season.

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