With Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls no longer marauding across NCAA hardwoods, Arkansas basketball's 2016 incarnation looks wholly different from last year's squad, which earned a No. 5 seed in the Big Dance after losing to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament championship game. At 12-12 (5-6 SEC), the Piggies have just one road win this year, a 94-61 curbstomping of Mizzou in Columbia.
And so Andy Kennedy plays Saturday afternoon host to Mike Anderson's club in The Pavilion, where the Basketbears look to avenge last season's heartbreaking 71-70 scraper almost a year to the day after the fact. Better still, the first 900 people through the door will receive an ANDY KENNEDY BOBBLE HEAD, so go get yourself one of those bouncing baldies.
But for Arky's abysmal road record this season, the Rebs and Swine may put on another photo finish Saturday. They meet in Oxford bearing some overlap in statistical footprint: Ole Miss is allowing in the neighborhood of 73 points per game, while Arkansas is giving up 76. On the other hand, the Rebs are pouring in 76 per outing to Arkansas' 80, so barring one or the other club playing far outside themselves, one expects a torrid back-and-forth affair.
By Ken Pomeroy's latest guestimation, SOOIE ranks in at No. 67, a full 27 spots above the Rebs' No. 94 rung. KenPom's calculus holds a very low opinion of Ole Miss' strength of schedule this season, especially the non-conference opponents therein, which have earned his No. 276 rating. Arkansas, despite its shitter of an away record, somehow legged out a 74-71 home win over No. 5 Texas A&M last month, in a game that otherwise would've registered on nobody's radar if even a damn meteor had struck Fayetteville that night.
Happy Valentine's Day and Lupercalia, folks.
How to watch:
Game Time: 1 p.m. CT
Online Streaming: WatchESPN