Hoops: Who’s a LOCK right now for “The Big Dance?!”

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It’s that time of the year. We are inside of three weeks until “Selection Sunday” where we find out the 37 out large teams that fill-out the NCAA Tournament field of 68.

I have covered the NCAA tournament process on the local/regional level in Florida followed by the national level for the likes of Sirius/XM Radio, Fox Sports Radio and now TuneIn Sports online for going on 25 years! And it seems like now more than ever, that everybody, their neighbor and nephew has a tourney bracket projection online. But, let’s go with what I know and at the end of this, a couple of sites that I trust the most to project which teams are IN (no doubt) “the Big Dance.”

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Hoops: Remember the “Mardi Gras Miracle” 1994? Kentucky does!

Tonight in Baton Rouge, #1 and unbeaten (23-0) Kentucky invades the Maravich Center to take on LSU. And no matter what happens, it likely will not come close to the craziness/drama of February 15th, 1994, at the same site.

If the headline alone did not chase you LSU fans away, you probably want to exit now!

Back to that night in ’94.  Rick Pitino’s Wildcats pulled off a stunning  31 point rally in the final 15:00 of the game that is obviously still being talked about 21 years later! Famed ‘Cats Travis Ford, Tony Delk and Walter McCarty led the charge, as Kentucky made an incredible 12 of 15 three pointers and scored an astounding 62 points in the second half for the rally!

Here’s the footage (you will want to go to about the 7:30 mark  where the comeback starts) to verify what transpired on that night on the Bayou:

It’s not only the greatest comeback in a half in major college basketball history, but it ranks near the top (if not #1) on most single game comeback lists. In fact, USA Today rated it #1 all time , ANY SPORT, ANY SINGLE GAME, in this September 2013 article : Greatest Comebacks Ever

What will happen in “The Deaf Dome” tonight at 7 Eastern? Who knows?!

Again, it can’t match a 31 point comeback in the final 15 minutes.

I  Gare-un-TEE ya! (Cajun accented ending)

Wise: Are the Hogs back? Saturday road test in Gainesville!

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Our SEC14.om Hoops analyst, Mark Wise gets ready to work Arkansas/Florida on radio Saturday. He’s been studying the Hogs and likes what he sees…..

Three years ago Arkansas went 0-9 on the road. Bagel. Donut. The next year they improved by a whopping one game, finishing at 1-9. Then bigger steps were taken last season when Mike Anderson’s team went 3-7 including an overtime win in Rupp Arena against the UK team that went to the NCAA title game.

That improvement has bounced its way into this season. The Razorbacks are 3-3 in away games and are one of only four teams in the land to have two top 25 rpi wins in true road games (@ Georgia/@ SMU). Considering the other 3 teams are Kansas, Virginia, and Duke, that feat is high above the rim.

Saturday, they travel to Florida. No, this is not Billy Donovan’s best team. LSU went into the O’Connell Center and overwhelmed the Gators. But it’s still the Rowdy Reptiles and CBS will be in town. Arkansas is 2-1 in SEC road affairs in 2015 but easily could be 1-2 if Wes Clark of Missouri had made free throws with less than a second remaining. So there is concern. We have heard it before. The system does not travel. The constant trapping and at times chaotic style of play requires the Bud Walton faithful for that extra boost of energy. And most of that is true.

However, the reason Arkansas has found their sea legs is because they have players. Really good ones. Experienced ones. Bobby Portis might be the best Sophomore in the country. A big that can score both facing and with his back to the basket. A rarity in college hoops these days. Junior Michael Qualls has developed into more than just a high-flying/high energy guy. Qualls has scored 20 or more 8 times this season. Senior Rashad Madden gives Anderson a big point guard with skills.

The result has Arkansas as the best team in the league minus that platoon group from Lexington. Their RPI is an outstanding 19. They will absolutely go dancing for the first time since 2008. It’s would also obviously, be the first time in the  Madness for Anderson (a Nolan Richardson disciple)  since he returned to Fayetteville 4 years ago. And, the Hogs have not seen the Sweet 16 since 1996. You get the picture.

This is not a game Arkansas has to win. That moniker probably belongs to the Gators. And getting desperate teams playing on their home court is always an iffy proposition.

But when the NCAA Selection Committee meets and finalizes selections, they ask these three questions: Who did you play? Who did you beat? Where did you beat them?

Finally, the Hogs can point to that last question and talk about success in that area.

Will that trend continue on Saturday?!