Ask anyone with a brain and they will tell you that Arkansas will lose on Saturday to should-be-number-one Kentucky. Take last year for instance, the Wildcats came to Bud Walton and thumped the Razorbacks 79-63. Fortson was weirdly suspended for that one game by John Pelphrey and the Hogs had to rely on Welsh who tied with Washington for a game high 14 points.
Look, we all know Steph means well, but when he leads our team in scoring Arkansas is probably not playing their best “team” basketball. Plus, Arkansas was going through a rough patch last year after losing Marcus Monk and dealing with disciplinary issues.
Now, a few things strike me about this year's matchup. First of all, Courtney Fortson will not be suspended (barring anything completely weird and unexpected) and with him on the floor, Arkansas has the most creative player in the league. Throw Rotnei Clarke into the mix and suddenly Arkansas has the best 3-point shooter in the league and a player averaging more points that John Wall. Not to mention the addition of Marshawn Powell to help Michael Washington contain Patrick Patterson.
I am not saying that any of the players on the Arkansas roster are anywhere close to being the caliber player that John Wall is. What I am saying is this: while Welsh is not going to beat Kentucky single handed, with all the pieces in place, Arkansas can beat Kentucky as a team.
Marcus Britt, who I believe to be the best backcourt defensive player on the Arkansas roster, will play a huge role in containing the mighty John Wall on defense. Chances are, he will get the start again in place of Farmer and... well, talk about the biggest assignment of the year (it might actually be the best player Britt will ever defend in his life).
Of course, Arkansas has to be careful during the first few minutes of the game in such a hostile environment. As we saw in the Mississippi State game, the Razorbacks have a tendency to get phased by playing on the road.
Playing the best team in the nation is a big deal. The last time Arkansas played no. 1 was during the 2007/2008 season when North Carolina handed the team a loss on their way to winning the NCAA tournament. Before that, you have to go way back in the stats to the 1995/1996 season when the Razorbacks played top-ranked Massachusetts.
Maybe I am getting ahead of myself. We still have to see what happens when the Hogs take on Florida tomorrow in Fayetteville. If we win, my personal expectations for the Kentucky game dramatically increase.