Mar 10, 2018; St. Louis, MO, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Jaylen Barford (0) goes up for a shot as he is challenged by Tennessee Volunteers forward Kyle Alexander (11) during the second half of the semifinals of the SEC Conference Tournament at Scottrade Center. Tennessee won 84-66. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas Battles Butler in Round 1 of NCAA Tournament

For the first time in a decade, Arkansas basketball is playing in its second straight NCAA Tournament. Last year, the Razorbacks made a run through the second round.

This year, the team is looking to surpass that. But, they will have to get past the Butler Bulldogs in Round 1 tonight. Arkansas is a No. 7 seed and Butler is a No. 10 seed. This game will be one to watch.

Recipe for Razorback Success

Besides the thrill of back-to-back runs, the Arkansas Razorbacks have a lot to play for.

Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

First of all, All-SEC picks Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon are seniors. The college basketball “last chance” typically finds itself sometime in March.

Together, the two combine for 34.9 points per game, out of a team average of 81. The two took down the Florida Gators during the SEC Tournament, with Barford scoring a career-high 27 points. All-SEC Freshman pick Daniel Gafford is also in the mix tonight. Expect these Razorbacks to charge against Butler.

Arkansas’ lethal three-point shot should also prove to be a positive. The Razorbacks are hitting 40 percent of their shots from the arc, which is the fourteenth best percentage in the NCAA.

The icing on the cake for a pre-game report is their opponent. Or more specifically, their opponent’s conference.

Last year, Arkansas took on Seton Hall from the Big East and won. Butler is also in the Big East. Familiarity never hurts.

Arkansas on the D

It is not a secret that the Razorbacks can score. On the other hand, their rim protection is less outspoken. In the SEC Tournament semifinals, they allowed 64.7 percent of Tennessee’s three-point attempts to sink.

Against Butler, the Razorbacks will need to put in some extra work on the glass. Butler grabs an average of more than two rebounds more thaArkansas per game.

In blocks, assists, and turnovers, the two teams are evenly matched. If the Hogs can do some extra defending, they should find themselves in the Round of 32.

Final Thoughts

Arkansas has the advantage.

Yes, Butler topped Villanova once. Butler also did not beat another ranked opponent all season. The Razorbacks are 4-2 against ranked opponents.

Butler is currently 1-3 in their last four games. Look to this to serve as Bulldog motivation.

Tip-off is at 3:10 p.m. eastern in Detroit, Michigan.

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