Head Coach: Mike Anderson (8th season) – 2017-18 Record: 23-12 (10-8) – SEC
Game: December 19th, 2018 (Bud Walton Arena – Fayetteville, AR)
Head coach profile:
Mike Anderson enters his eighth season at the helm of the Arkansas program after spending five seasons at Missouri. Since arriving in Fayetteville, Anderson has nearly tasted only success with the Razorbacks, delivering four 20+ win seasons including a 27-win season in 2014-15. He’s also led the Razorbacks to three NCAA Tournament bids including the last two seasons.
The Razorbacks went 23-12 last year and for most of the season played extremely well. Heading into the month of January, the Razorbacks were 11-2. While they struggled a bit in conference plays, their hot start allowed them to earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
- Non-Conference Play:
The Razorbacks played well throughout their non-conference schedule last season going 11-2 and dropping games to North Carolina and Houston. Notable wins in their non-conference slate included a win over Oklahoma and a win over #14 Minnesota.
- Conference Play:
The SEC was a strong conference last year with multiple teams vying for the top spot as we mentioned in our Tennessee Volunteers preview. The Razorbacks started off 1-3 in conference play last season and didn’t reach above .500 in conference play until January 27th. The Razorbacks would end up using a strong month of February and a strong conference tournament appearance to earn a bid to last year’s NCAA Tournament where they appeared as a seventh seed in the East region.
Notable Players to Watch:
With the Razorbacks losing three of their top four scoring options, we are not left with many established players to watch and leaves us with just one player that we feel that you should truly know about entering the season.
- F Daniel Gafford
Last season as a freshman, Gafford was a huge contributor for the Razorbacks and averaged 11.8 points per game last season. The 6-foot-11 forward/center also averaged 6.2 rebounds per game a season ago. Overall, he had 22 double-digit point efforts, including 13, 15+ point efforts. The Yellow Jackets will have to be aware of this game-changing big man.
Expectations entering 2018-19:
The Razorbacks as mentioned above did lose three of their top four scorers which certainly will temper expectations around the Arkansas program. That being said, under head coach Mike Anderson, the Razorbacks have always been a team that is capable of making the NCAA Tournament and that shouldn’t change at all this season. The Razorbacks won’t contend for any conference or national championships in all likelihood but should stay a contender to make the NCAA Tournament.
How the Yellow Jackets matchup:
For the Yellow Jackets, a majority of their gameplan against Arkansas will be on how they will keep Gafford from taking over the game. They’ll need to look for big games out of Abdoulaye Gueye and Sylvester Ogbonda. While the Razorbacks have lost a few of their top scoerers, they will most likely find a few scoring options in time for this mid-December match-up. Overall, Josh Pastner’s Yellow Jackets will need a big effort offensively to beat the Razorbacks.