Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson refuses to guess what it might take at this week's SEC Tournament in Atlanta to ensure his team an NCAA Tournament bid, but does have a mindset that will do just that.
Bracketologists such as ESPN's Joe Lunardi and CBS' Jerry Palm have the Razorbacks (21-10, 10-8) in the tournament as of today, but it's an iffy berth at this time and likely depends on success at the Georgia Dome.
"Obviously they're going to hear and see and all those things, but I always told the guys, just see it through my eyes," Anderson said. "They've never been to an NCAA Tournament. They don't know. So let's see if we can make them understand what they know is how to go out and execute the game plan each and every game."
Lunardi has Arkansas as a 12th seed and one of his last four teams in while Palm has the Razorbacks – 2-1 against the top 50 and 5-5 against the top 100 - as an 11th seed.
"If Arkansas gets by Auburn or South Carolina on Thursday, the Hogs play Tennessee on Friday in the 4/5 quarterfinal." Lunardi writes. "The winner would certainly be in the NCAA field while the loser faces a very long wait until the selection show."
Razorback senior guard Fred Gulley is the only member of the team to have played in an NCAA Tournament and that was when he was a freshman at Oklahoma State.
Arkansas had won sixth straight and eight of its last nine and appeared solidly in the tournament before crashing to earth with a humbling 83-58 loss at Alabama.
"We didn't take our practice to the game," Anderson said. "We missed shots. We didn't defend. We tried to win it on offense. And I think the reason why we had this tremendous surge is our defense has been, we've been blue collar. Our defense has really been intact. Guys are trusting one another, fixing things on defense. In that particular game it was like we were a half-step slow.
"So, I attribute that to not going prepared," Anderson added. "I'll take the blame on some of that. But at the same time, I think that sometimes that pat on the back can set you back. These guys have had some success and people talk and write about them and sometimes you start believing it."
"We have to make sure we do our damage on the floor and we do it on the defensive side of the ball," Anderson said. " That's going to be our mindset as we go into this tournament is blue collar and humble and hungry."
Fifth-seeded Arkansas will open play Thursday at around 2:30 p.m. CST when it plays the winner of Wednesday night's game between 12th-seeded Auburn (14-15, 6-12) and 13th-seeded South Carolina (12-19, 5-13).
Both teams have struggled, but both won road games to close the regular season.
"That first game is the most important game as we play the winner of S. Carolina and Auburn. Two teams we played earlier in the year here at Bud Walton Arena. But everything is neutral now.
" All the records of every team is 0-0 as we enter this tournament," Anderson added. "Survive and advance, one game at a time. To me it's a fine time of the year and i think it's a time that favors a team that has depth. Our team and teams I've been associated with, this time of the year, getting past that first game is the most important thing."
Survive And Advance
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