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ESPN puts Razorbacks at No. 1 in ‘way-too-early’ projection

In three seasons, Arkansas has gone from the hunter to the hunted and is listed No. 1 for next season.

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — In three seasons, Arkansas has gone from the hunter to the hunted.

Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman will be starting next season with clean air in front of him after ESPN projected them to be the No. 1 team headed into the 2022-23 season.

If Hog fans needed something to get them going for next year, there it is.

This is, of course, one of those way-too-early projection things we get the day after one championship is decided.

Kansas fans probably are nursing the hangover from an exhausting comeback win over North Carolina on Monday night.

Now Arkansas becomes a target for the first time since Nolan Richardson’s teams were playing for national championships in the early 1990’s.

And Musselman has done it in three seasons.

It appears he might have to be doing it with an almost completely new lineup after Jaylin Williams announced Monday he’s going to find out if he’s a high pick for the NBA Draft.

A lot of guesses have him gone.

Which will leave the Hogs with three freshmen likely in the starting lineup.

Incoming freshman Nick Smith is getting some buzz about being the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. The Hogs landed Anthony Black a couple of weeks ago when he turned down Gonzaga and Jordan Walsh is another one that could be a one-and-done.

“There are some roster questions, mainly focused on Jaylin Williams and Au’Diese Toney, but if one of the two returns, I think this is the best team in the country,” ESPN’s Jeff Borzello wrote in the story.

Maybe more surprising than the Hogs being the No. 1 team is Houston at No. 2. Talk about things going back to the 1980’s when Eddie Sutton and Guy Lewis were at the top of the national rankings every year and playing twice a season in the Phi Slamma Jamma days.

The ESPN story had a projected Razorbacks’ starting lineup that would look like this:

Projected starting lineup:

Nick Smith (No. 6 in ESPN 100)
Devo Davis (8.3 points per game)
Anthony Black (No. 20 in ESPN 100)
Jordan Walsh (No. 10 in ESPN 100)
Au’Diese Toney (10.5 points per game)

The rest of the way-too-early lineup had the usual suspects you can shake every year and roll out there with Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, etc.

Get ready, it’s going to be an interesting buildup to a season.

If the football team meets expectations, things could get downright crazy.

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