The LSU Tigers will conclude a week-long break Saturday afternoon, as the Arkansas Razorback come to town for a crucial game in the SEC season. The Razorbacks 16-6 (4-3) have rallied since the mid-way point of January and went 4-2 over that stretch, including a win over the Michigan Wolverines. One of those wins was a home win against the LSU Tigers back on the 14th. Things are going good in Fayetteville for the Hogs.
Outside of Fayetteville, however, the Razorbacks are yet to win a game. They currently have an 0-5 record in road games, while they haven't played a neutral site game. A lot of writers from across college basketball are wondering what to make of the Arkansas team. Are they a team worthy of the NCAA tournament? Their resume is coming along nicely, especially with how poorly it started. Yet as they try to find a spot for them in bracket projections, they hold off because of the lack of a road win.
LSU, on the other hand, is virtually the opposite. They have been all across the country so far, compiling a 5-6 record over road and neutral sites. Of course, the SEC did LSU no favors in the scheduling, as 4 of the last 6 were road games, and the previous home game was Kentucky. The Tigers finished with a 1-5 record in those games, a win in OT against Auburn being that lone win.
For now, the schedule eases up for the rest of the way, assuming the Tigers are able to take care of business at home and against teams they "should beat". I break the final 9 games down into two sections, the coming four and the final five. The next four games are clearly tougher than the last five, but the Tigers will have the benefit of playing three of those games at home, the other being a road game at Vanderbilt.
It's not time to give up on this team. The NCAA chances of the Tigers are quite dim, as it would take winning 9 of 11 to finish out the year to feel as if they have a spot in the big dance. The NIT is certainly in play, and would probably require winning 7 or 8 games, which is entirely possible with games against Auburn, Ole Miss, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia still to come.
Against Kentucky, there's really not much to gain from the game. LSU was overmatched at virtually every position, and adding in the foul trouble that Hamilton had it was a recipe for disaster. That said, if you were judging the opposing football schools by their effort against LSU in the regular season, you would have never guessed that LSU beat 7 bowl winning teams. Same goes for basketball, even though Kentucky made us look bad, it doesn't mean we are that bad.
Redemption will need to come quickly. The stretch of games over the next two and a half weeks makes or breaks the season. A 2-2 record would be sufficient, since the next four opponents are all current NCAA teams or NCAA bubble teams.
Tip-off tomorrow is scheduled for 12:30 at the PMAC. As mentioned previously, tickets are $5 and it's a Maravich bobble-head give-away game. More statistical analysis to come later.