The SEC is one of the most competitive conferences talent-wise in all of college basketball. There are nine teams with the type of record that could lead to a 2014 NCAA Tournament berth and, next to the Florida Gators and Kentucky Wildcats, there may only be one or two more bids for the Big Dance and that’s it. That’s what made the game between two of these borderline 2014 NCAA Tournament teams, the Missouri Tigers and Arkansas Razorbacks, so important.
Arkansas had huge performances from Bobby Portis, Michael Qualls and Rashad Madden scored over 15 points, but they just couldn’t get it done on the glass as the Tigers out-rebounded them 42-26. Missouri’s Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown combined for 48 points and helped lead the Tigers over the Razorbacks, 75-71.
With the loss, Arkansas takes a step in the wrong direction. After finally getting a marquee win against Kentucky, they have lost three of the last four and are 2-5 in SEC play. The Razorbacks still have a slight chance of making it into March Madness, but, with Kentucky being the lone remaining ranked opponent, they are far more likely to end up in the NIT.
The good news for Arkansas is that Portis, Moses Kingsley, Madden, Alandise Harris and Qualls returning next season, the Razorbacks should be a lock for the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Expect this team to be a legitimate threat to win the NIT this season, and win the SEC next season.