It's hard to say why; after all the Razorbacks were ranked as high as No. 4 this season in some polls and at 32-6 were thought to be a shoo-in as a national seed when the NCAA Tournament rolled around.
But the Hogs came on hard times, at one point losing five straight games and seven of nine heading into last weekend's Fayetteville Regional.
Like last year Arkansas rebounded from a disappointing end to the regular season by winning its regional and now advances to meet No. 1 Arizona State in the NCAA Tempe Super Regional, beginning tonight at 8 p.m. Once again the Razorbacks have been attached with the underdog label and once again Arkansas hopes it can prove its pundits wrong. By doing so the Hogs would advance to the College World Series in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.
"Everyone classifies us as the underdog but we're a pretty good team," Arkansas center fielder Brett Eibner said. "We were ranked pretty high at one point and happened to hit a skid. This is going to be two really good teams going at it and hopefully we can do what we need to do to get some wins. We're going out there to play hard."
But if any "underdog" can hang with the best it would be Arkansas (43-19), a team as battle-tested as any in the country. Of the other 15 teams in this weekend's super regional round the Razorbacks have played eight in the last calendar year, and that doesn't include the Sun Devils.
Arkansas played eventual Super Regional opponents South Carolina, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt and Florida in nine straight games to end the regular season and SEC Tournament.
"The schedule definitely prepares us for this time of year," Arkansas sophomore catcher James McCann said. "In the SEC there isn't a weekend you can go in and expect to win three games. It's a dogfight every day and the way we have to go out and play every day really prepares us for the postseason. It turns into a grind in the middle of the year but once the postseason comes we've already seen the best teams.
"Arizona State is the No. 1 seed and they've got their road paved to Omaha already, and I'm sure their fans are already booking their tickets for Omaha, but they don't know what's going to come in there."
It feels a little bit like last year for Arkansas senior pitcher Mike Bolsinger, who will start tonight's game on the mound. The Razorbacks weren't given much of a chance in the Tallahassee Super Regional but won two games in two days to advance to the College World Series.
"The storyline is very similar," Bolsinger said. "Hopefully it can end the same way it did last year."
It will mark the third straight year the Hogs and Sun Devils have met on the diamond. Arkansas won two in a midweek series in Fayetteville last season while Arizona State took two in Tempe in 2008.
The two teams are scheduled to meet in Tempe again in 2011 and Fayetteville in 2012.
"You know what you're getting into by playing them four times in two years," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Their style of play is very aggressive. They have a lot of players that are now starting and still in the program that have been there over the last couple of years.
"I really think it helps for guys like (Andy) Wilkins and Eibner that played out there as freshmen and are now juniors It helps take the edge off."
Arkansas' two wins over Washington State in three games last weekend help as well. The Cougars were the only Pac-10 team to win a three-game series against Arizona State this season.
"Saturday night is huge," McCann said. "We're excited to go out and play the No. 1 team. If we go out and win that first game it will put all the pressure on them.
"We can go up against any one in the country and it doesn't matter who they have. It's all about ourselves and how we play as a team. That will dictate the game."
NCAA Tempe Super Regional
Arkansas (43-19) at No. 1 Arizona State (50-8)
When: Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 6 p.m. (if necessary)
Where: Packard Stadium
TV: Saturday - ESPNU; Sunday and Monday (if necessary) - ESPN2
Radio: Razorback Sports Network
Series Record: Tied 3-3
Pitching Rotations: Arkansas - RHP Mike Bolsinger (6-5, 4.77), LHP Drew Smyly (9-1, 2.56), RHP TJ Forrest (8-0, 3.10); Arizona State - RHP Seth Blair (12-0, 3.06), RHP Jake Borup (11-1, 4.08), RHP Merrill Kelly (10-2, 3.52).