"We may sit here in two weeks and see that it was, or maybe not," Van Horn said Monday after the NCAA pairings were announced. "We won't know until we look back."
The Razorbacks were assigned the No. 2 seed behind host Rice in the four-team regional that begins Friday. Top seed Rice plays fourth-seeded Prairie View at 6 p.m. Friday in the other first-round game.
Sam Houston State (38-20) is the fourth seed. SHSU is the Southland Conference champion. The Bearkats are ranked 49th in the NCAA power ratings.
The Hogs (39-19) were beat-up both mentally and physically when they lost to Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the first two games of the SEC tournament last week. Van Horn said they needed time to heal.
Most of the battered Hogs will be ready to go at Rice, with the possible exception of lefty relief pitcher Cade Lynch. Migraine headaches forced Lynch to a Birmingham hospital for medication to relieve the pain. He's back in Fayetteville, but his availability for the weekend isn't known.
"We might get him back at some point," Van Horn said. "He's tough. But he's got to get that medication through him. He couldn't pitch right now. Maybe by Friday or by Saturday, maybe he can. We'll just have to see."
There is better news with some other injuries. Matt Reynolds, the team's best hitter with a .340 batting average, looked back to normal by Saturday's two practices.
Reynolds was hit by a pitch in the elbow area in his first at bat of the SEC tournament. The pitch struck a nerve and it caused Reynolds to leave the game sick at his stomach along with swelling to his elbow. He tried to play the next day was not effective.
"He wanted to play and we probably should have held him out," Van Horn said. "He looked good in batting practice Saturday. I think he's fine.
"He got hit in a place that is very dangerous. I know it got a nerve. He went up the tunnel during that (Mississippi State) game and I think he thought he was going to throw up."
Van Horn said shortstop Tim Carver, second behind Reynolds with a .313 average, is also injured. He has a sore wrist that probably should have put him on the bench in the SEC tournament.
"Yeah, we didn't really know about it," Van Horn said. "But we made sure to rest him this week. He hasn't taken a swing with a bat."
Outfielder Derrick Bleeker also has a wrist injury, but not as severe as Carver's problem. He took limited swings this week in practice.
Van Horn said the Hogs know fans are disappointed in the finish, especially losing two of three in the final home series and the two-and-out at the SEC tournament.
"The way we finished was disappointing," he said. "I think the Auburn series had something to do with being in the middle of finals. We won 39 games, but we don't feel good about the season. I know that people around here don't feel good, either. When we came back to Fayetteville it felt like we'd won just 29.
"But this is a fresh season and we are on a mission.
"I know that getting to the NCAA tournament is a difficult thing. I know we earned it, though. We may have been .500 down the stretch, but there were a lot of one-run games. Now it's time to kick it into gear."
Van Horn was asked several times about the lack of offensive production during stretches of the season.
"Our offense jumped up there at the end and we are (at .282). Florida is at .258 and they have a number one seed. It's been the year of the pitchers and bullpens, pretty incredible (pitching) around our league."
Van Horn didn't know a lot about the Bearkats, other than he knows the talent in the Southland.
"I coached in that league and so did Todd Butler on our staff, so we know there are good players there," Van Horn said. "That will be a good team. If you are in the tournament, you are good."
Van Horn also knows plenty about Rice. He watched the Owls against Texas in the tournament the Hogs played in Houston earlier this spring.
"We were going to play Texas so I saw them," Van Horn said. "I know their arms and their talent. We recruit that area and talked to a lot of those players. We know them. They have SEC-style pitching."
Van Horn said the Hogs have been practicing in the heat of the day in an attempt to get as close to south Texas heat as possible. The forecast for Friday is high of 90 with a light breeze out of the North Northeast.
"They have a nice park, but when the wind blows from the south, it can play pretty small," Van Horn said. "But we are getting that cool front coming through here and it might be coming there, too."
That appears to be the case with the unusual breeze from the north.
"We do hit some home runs, but we are probably about middle of the pack there in the SEC," he said. "The key will be to hit line drives."
DJ Baxendale will start on Friday. Van Horn does not want to risk what happened last year when the Hogs "pitched off" in the first round of the tournament against Charlotte.
"We are not doing that," he said. "We got to win game one. We aren't going to do anything crazy. DJ is going to go first and if we need him for Monday for a few innings, he'd want to do that."
Ryne Stanek will start the second game.
"He's been scuffling a little," Van Horn said. "He hadn't pitched much and he made one mistake against Mississippi State. They got three on one swing. He needs to step it up. His back is fine."
After that, Van Horn said Randall Fant might get a start. He also said relievers Colby Suggs and Barrett Astin could get several turns.
"Barrett probably lost a little confidence," Van Horn said. "He'd get to one-two on a hitter and start nibbling. He needs to attack more. He's got good stuff and needs to be more aggressive."
Van Horn was asked about Dominic Ficociello's season. The sophomore hit .309, but slipped about 20 points in the last three weeks.
"He needs to swing at strikes and be more disciplined," Van Horn said. "He was really good righthanded against lefty pitching, around .315. But when he was lefty against righthanders, only .270."