Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY
Published 10: 04 p.m. ET March 21, 2021
Or not it is too contaminated Baylor awaits in the Elite Eight, since Arkansas might presumably per chance desire a appropriate likelihood at the Final Four in another arena — if transported all the plan down to the Midwest, it’d be very easy to perform a case for the Razorbacks being the crew to beat.
Because it is, the formulation Baylor has looked in the opening weekend of the men’s NCAA Tournament paints the Bears not sincere as the favorites in the South but per chance the most efficient crew in the bracket, duration, will all due appreciate to restful-unbeaten Gonzaga.
Now to not advise coach Eric Musselman’s crew shouldn’t be going to contain a shot: Arkansas can jog, shoot and most of all protect, three qualities that in tandem contain the No. 3 Razorbacks serve in the event’s 2nd weekend for the first time since 1996.
Arkansas held Texas Tech to sincere 36.1% from the arena, including 29.2% inside of 3-point fluctuate, and came up with plenty of gradual stops in a 68-66 win to come to the Sweet 16.
“Here is why I came here. I came here to win,” mentioned senior guard Justin Smith, a graduate transfer from Indiana. “And that’s it. And to contain it come thru, to come thru fruition, it’s a testament to all the exhausting work we obtain in. We’re sincere gonna keep on going and locate how a ways we can sprint.”
But the very most practical event intrigue surrounding Musselman and the Razorbacks comes from another source.
The job at Indiana is begin, again, and the Hoosiers are in the market for a savior, again, and — yeah, again — overtures pitched to some of the very most practical names in coaching, college and otherwise, were rebuffed.
Instead of dangling the job at latest Sleek York Knicks assistant Mike Woodson, an Indiana graduate who played for Bobby Knight, the Hoosiers should keep things uncomplicated: Create not let Musselman leave the state.
He checks the boxes.
Musselman has spent more than three a long time in coaching across an alphabet soup of competition ranges: the NCAA, NBA, CBA, USBL and D-League.
The previous nine seasons contain come on the college level, as an assistant at Arizona Impart and LSU and the head coach at Nevada (2015-19) and with the Razorbacks.
He’s won a minimum of 20 video games in every of his six seasons as head coach and reached every of the previous four tournaments, from 2016-18 with the Wolf Pack and again in his 2nd year at Arkansas.
Musselman’s college teams contain improved every season: Nevada won 24 video games and the CBI championship in his first year — an achievement given the crew he inherited won nine video games a year earlier — and then 28 video games in every of the subsequent three, including a Sweet 16 berth in 2017 and a No. 9 ranking in the 2018 preseason Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll.
After going 20-12 total and 7-11 in the SEC final season, Arkansas is 25-6 with as many NCAA Tournament wins in Indiana’s yard as the Hoosiers contain.
He’s been ready to recruit: Arkansas’ 2020 class ranked in the top 10 nationally, according to 247Sports.com.
And if unnoticed for mighty of the regular season even inside the SEC, where most nationwide consideration used to be dedicated to Nate Oats and Alabama, Musselman’s crew is actual across the board: seventh nationally in scoring offense, 43rd in made 3s, fourth in blocks, ninth in rebounds and seventh in steals, to title a few.
“It presentations we can play with someone. We’re going in an effort to alter and compete,” Smith mentioned.
Musselman is “a coach that lets in you the freedom, who lets you play basketball,” he added. “The main thing, truthfully, is sincere confidence. I think the formulation we put together and we be conscious lets in all of us as individuals to contain confidence.”
By leading Arkansas previous the Red Raiders, Musselman has already extended his finish in Indiana for another week. The Hoosiers should perform it more permanent.
Train colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg