I would not be surprised if the SEC/Big 12 Challenge opponents are released soon, perhaps this week. It typically is released around this time each year.
The challenge will be played again in January. One game that won’t be played in the challenge is Kansas vs. Kentucky. Those two will meet at an early-season event in Chicago instead. West Virginia also has been told it is playing at home in the challenge.
I expect Arkansas will be part of it, at home if the recent years’ pattern holds true. In fact, I think having it at Bud Walton Arena is the only way the Razorbacks would agree to be part of it for next season, given they are committed to play three games in Portland and at Houston. Add to that the NLR game and Arkansas will have only 17 on-campus games next season.
Speaking of NLR, a possible opponent there is Colorado State, according to terms of their game contract. Arkansas and Colorado State will play in December at a date to be determined, and the contract stipulates the game could be played in NLR if the Razorbacks choose to place it there.
It’s interesting that this is the only rematch from last year’s challenge. It’s a good matchup because Oklahoma State vs. Arkansas is a natural game based on their proximity. The Cowboys’ former coach advocated for it to be a yearly matchup in January.
I was hoping for Baylor at Arkansas. I don’t know if Cowboys would be a Top 25 team, but Baylor probably will. It would be nice to get a couple of Top 25 teams at home for a chance to have resume wins.
I don’t know how much OK St lost off their roster, but this might be a good measuring stick as to how much we’ve improved. We got spanked last year. If you ask why Arkansas couldn’t get above the 8-9 line in the NCAA tournament, that game is part of the answer.
I’ve seen a few of the team accounts - including Arkansas - start teasing the Phil Knight Invitational on social media the past couple of days, which makes me think that bracket might be released soon.
We get a possible rematch against UNC in the second round. Also, going to be really important we win that first game against Oklahoma. Portland had a 233 RPI last year, definitely don’t wanna take a chance of getting matched up with them and hurting our RPI.
I don’t know how much the committee can ding us on SOS if we wind up playing Portland; it’s not like we control what happens in the rest of the tournament. What if Portland somehow beats UNC (unlikely, but remember Chaminade over Virginia; weird things happen in early season tournaments), then still winds up in the 200-plus RPI club? We’d get dinged just as much.
That was before the computer numbers were so important. If you can play a tough schedule and win your fair share, you end up being rewarded.
The thing I like is that we get some of the return games and other decent non conference games in the state.
Last year was difficult with early trips to Minny and OK St and Texas (Hou).
I wish we weren’t playing OU. Been there and done that. And, they have the new 5 star so his name will be mentioned about 5,713 times during the broadcast.
The good news is we have a lot of experience and talent and by all rights should be a solid Top 20 team from wire to wire (although we won’t because there are some ridiculous media darlings ahead of us).