Like a lot of Razorback fans, I thought the Razorbacks had an NCAA Tournament spot all but locked up after blowing out the Ole Miss Rebels on senior night.
The Razorbacks were then winners of six straight and eight of their last nine games.
Arkansas then went on the road and ended up on the wrong end of a lopsided game at Alabama. For an encore, the Razorbacks followed that up with a loss to South Carolina in the SEC Tournament in Atlanta.
The NCAA Tournament bubble Arkansas was sitting on quickly burst, and took with it all the good feelings Razorback fans had developed for the team.
The NIT, I’m sure, isn’t where any fans, coaches or players wanted to see this team. However, it is a postseason tournament, something Arkansas hasn’t participated in since 2008.
I’m not saying Razorback fans should settle for NIT appearances, but maybe they could see it as a stepping stone to something better.
It’s like when you’re baking cookies. Your entire home fills with the smell of gooey, chocolatey goodness and you get so excited when you finally hear the beeping of the timer, but all your hopes are dashed when you realize the cookies aren’t quite done.
Year three was supposed to be the year for Mike Anderson at Arkansas. This is when it was all going to come together, the timer was going off. Now, unfortunately, we’ve realized the cookies aren’t done just yet.
But they are really close. They don’t have to bake for another 12 minutes, an extra two or three should do the trick.
This season, the Razorbacks were 3-6 in road games and 2-3 in neutral site games.
In the previous two seasons combined, the Razorbacks went 2-18 on the road and 0-4 in neutral site games. Winning on the road in college basketball is hard to do, but the Razorbacks have made improvements in that area.
The last time Arkansas made the NIT was 1997. The Razorbacks made the NCAA Tournament each of the next four years.
The only other time Arkansas made an NIT appearance was in 1987. The Razorbacks followed that up with nine straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Maybe the Razorbacks can again use the NIT as a springboard to the Big Dance.
Next year needs to be the year, though, or I’m going to run out of baking tips and hopefulness.