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Do Hogs HAVE to win against Kentucky for NCAA Tournament?

How to watch-listen to Razorbacks’ game against Kentucky with pregame starting on ESPN Arkansas at 12:30 p.m.

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Who: Arkansas Razorbacks (19-11, 8-9 SEC) vs No. 23 Kentucky Wildcats (20-10, 11-6 SEC)
What: This will be the regular-season finale and Arkansas will honor senior Kamani Johnson prior to the game.
When: Saturday, Mar. 4, 1 p.m.
Where: Nolan Richardson Court at Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Ark.
Television: CBS (Andrew Catalon and Steve Lappas)
Listen Online: HitThatLine.com
Radio: ESPN Arkansas 99.5 in Fayetteville, 95.3 in the River Valley, 96.3 in Hot Springs and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home (Chuck Barrett and Matt Zimmerman)
Sirius/XM: 138 (Sirius) / 190 (XM) • SXM App: Channel 961

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Whether Arkansas HAS to win Saturday’s game against Kentucky won’t be known until people started selected bracket.

It’s a win they want, though.

At least in the press conferences this week, the Razorbacks have said they want to do. More importantly, they seem to get what they have to do for a win.

“We’re going to have to stop their star players,” said freshman guard Anthony Black. “They’ve got a lot of really good talented players. There’s a couple players who do more than others. Try to follow the game plan, limit them and then just continue to try to get back to playing good on offense like we were the first time we played against them.”

Some people feel they are in good shape for the NCAA Tournament. Until they do the brackets, though, nobody knows for sure.

A win over the Wildcats and maybe a win or two in the SEC Tournament next week will guarantee a spot. You can thank assistant coach Anthony Ruta, who puts together the non-conference schedules for Eric Musselman.

This one was good enough the Hogs are No. 16 in the mysterious NET rankings system (Kentucky is No. 22). Usually, a team with a Top 20 spot in those rankings would guarantee a spot in the tournament, but a losing conference record is cause for pause.

Arkansas will host No. 23 Kentucky to close the 2022-23 regular season on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. and the game will be televised on CBS.

Arkansas will honor senior Kamani Johnson prior to the game.

• Arkansas and Kentucky have met on 47 previous occasions, all but four coming since Arkansas joined the SEC (1991-92). Kentucky owns a 33-14 advantage in the series, including a 29-14 mark in SEC games. In games played in Fayetteville, the series is tied 8-8.

• Arkansas won the last three meetings in the series, including twice at Rupp.

• This is the second of two meetings between the programs this season. This is just the second time since Arkansas joined the SEC that the Razorbacks and Wildcats will face each other twice in the regular season. The only other time came in 2013-14 when Arkansas swept Kentucky with a pair of overtime victories. First, Arkansas beat #13 Kentucky in Fayetteville (Jan. 14, 2014). Then, the Razorbacks handed the 17th-ranked Wildcats a 71-67 setback in Rupp Arena (Feb. 27, 2014).

• Earlyier this year, the Hogs beat Kentucky in Rupp Arena, 88-73 at Rupp Arena. Arkansas used a red-hot second half to roll to an 88-73 win at Kentucky to give Head Coach Eric Musselman his 200th win as a collegiate head coach. The Razorbacks went 18-for-25 (72.0%) from the field in the second half and shot 62.7% overall in the win. Leading by one coming out of halftime, back-to-back steals and dunks from Anthony Black spurred a 6-0 run to set the tone for the win. Black finished with 19 points, five assists and five steals. Ricky Council IV scored 20 and Davonte Davis added seven assists.

• Thanks to 497 points this year and ranking third in the SEC in scoring (16.6 ppg), Ricky Council IV is just 18 points shy of 1,000 for his career.

• Despite going 3-4 over its last seven games, Arkansas continued to climb in the NCAA NET, going from 28th to 15th.

Why is Arkansas’ NCAA Net So Good?

• Arkansas has the No. 3 strength of schedule in the nation (WarrenNolan.com) behind Baylor and Alabama.

Arkansas was 11-2 in the non-conference and those 13 teams Arkansas faced are having good seasons:

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• Arkansas’ non-conference RPI is No. 4 nationally and non-conference schedule is No. 9 (WarrenNolan.com)

• 11 of the 13 teams are inside the NCAA NET 150

• 11 of the 13 are among their league’s top 5 including 3 in 1st place • 2 in 2nd • 4 in 3rd (UNCG was just 1 game out of 1st)

• 10 of the 13 with at least 18 wins … including 7 20-game winners

• Arkansas has played a perhaps the toughest SEC schedule as well

• Of the five teams it played twice, four are among the SEC top 5 (#1 Alabama, #2 Texas A&M, #3 Kentucky and #5 Missouri)

• Arkansas’ last three road games were at #2 Texas A&M, at #1 Alabama and at #4 Tennessee.

• Four of Arkansas’ last six were versus teams in the SEC top four (at No. 2 A&M, at No. 1 Alabama, at No. 4 Tennessee and vs No. 3 Kentucky).

Information from Arkansas Communications is included in this story.

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