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Arkansas Razorbacks at Kentucky Wildcats: Preview of the Showdown In The SEC Tournament

It's the #1 seed vs. the #2 seed as Kentucky and Arkansas face off for all the marbles.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in the last two seasons, the Kentucky Wildcats have an opportunity to win the SEC Tournament championship. Last season, the Florida Gators thwarted Kentucky's attempt to win a trophy they haven't won since 2011. This season, the Arkansas Razorbacks will try to thwart not only the Wildcats' restoration to the top of the SEC post-season, but also a 33 game winning streak that is the newly-minted school best.

Like the game against Auburn yesterday, and the game vs. Florida previous to that, this game means absolutely nothing in terms of NCAA Tournament seeding. Kentucky will be the #1 tournament seed absent some sort of unimaginable selection committee malpractice whether they win today by 30 or lose by 50. I fact, this is the most meaningless game in terms of NCAA implications that I can ever remember at this time of year. It's really quite amazing.

Having said all that, there is no doubt this game means a lot to both the fans and the team members of Kentucky. 40-0 has now become a genuine possibility, and after this game, every remaining contest is live or die. We want to see Kentucky get a shot at history, and unless they win this one, that history will, in some way, be diminished no matter what they do from here on.

Game particulars

When: Sunday, March 8th
Time: 1:00 PM
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville TN
Radio: UK Sports Radio Network
Streaming: Live video vis Watch ESPN
Audio: Live Audio
Other: Live Stats

Rank and records

Rank and Records ARK UK
RPI #19 #1
Strength of Schedule #63 #51
Overall 26-7 33-0
Conference 15-5 20-0
Home 17-2 19-0
Away 7-5 10-0
Top 25 1-2 4-0
RPI Top 50 5-3 11-0 #29 #1

What's changed since the last meeting

Four games separate the most recent meeting between Arkansas and Kentucky. In them, the Razorbacks defeated South Carolina narrowly on the road, lost to LSU at home by 3, and defeated Tennessee and Georgia convincingly in the SEC Tournament.

Four Factors

Notable conference stats

Stat Arkansas Rank Kentucky Rank
Offensive efficiency 107.0 3 115.4 1
Defensive efficiency 101.9 7 88.9 1
eFG% 49.0 6 51.5 2
Def eFG% 49.9 12 43.4 1
3P% 33.1 9 35.7 4
FT% 71.6 4 74.3 3

Game Analysis

Arkansas is the 2nd best team in the SEC and deserves that distinction. They play very hard, have a talented and athletic team, and the SEC Player of the Year, Bobby Portis. Arkansas very badly wants to return to their mid-1990's form and become a genuine rival of Kentucky, and defeating them in the SEC Tournament championship game and ending their undefeated season would very much help make that a reality.

The thing is, however, that being motivated to defeat Kentucky and actually pulling that feat off has eluded each of the 33 teams who have tried, in various venues, all season. Some of those teams were significantly better than Arkansas, so to say that the Hogs will need their best today is only half of the equation. Not only will the Razorbacks have to bring their "A" game, they will need help from Kentucky.

The Razorbacks, despite the fearsome reputation of their full court pressure, are not a good defensive team. They are allowing over 1 point per possession on the season, and last time they played Kentucky in Rupp Arena, they allowed almost 1.21 points per possession. Arkansas is also allows a lot of offensive rebounds, and that can be the kiss of death against the Wildcats. The Razorbacks also put teams at the line a lot, and as we have seen in the last two games, the Wildcats have made opponents pay a heavy price for fouling them.

With all that said, Arkansas played well against the Georgia Bulldogs yesterday and looks primed to give their best effort today. If that happens, this could be one of the best games we have seen in a while. If they don't deliver their best, Kentucky is likely to run them out of Bridgestone Arena and back to Fayetteville with their tails between their metaphorical legs.

Go, 'Cats!