Arkansas Ready to Prove Worthy of Preseason Top 10 Ranking

Arkansas Ready to Prove Worthy of Preseason Top 10 Ranking
By Shelby Dermer
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

Arkansas cracked the top 10 in the first Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball poll, with more than 1,000 total votes. The Razorbacks are ranked the No. 2 team in the SEC, behind Kentucky, which ranks No. 4 in the nation.

The No. 10 ranking is sure to draw interest in Arkansas sports betting.

Arkansas will face six teams currently ranked in the Top 25, including a pair of late-season showdowns against Kentucky.

It’s the first time Arkansas has donned a preseason Top 10 ranking since 1994. The Razorbacks were ranked No. 16 going into the 2021-2022 season and No. 10 was their highest ranking of the year.

Can Arkansas continue to make history?

After a 7-11 season in 2020, Arkansas has shined in the last two years of the Eric Musselman era. The Razorbacks reached the Elite 8 (regional championship game) in each of the last two seasons and were a Top 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament on both occasions.

Arkansas has not had a two-year run like this since 1994-1995, when Nolan Richardson and his “40 Minutes of Hell” approach led the Razorbacks to the program’s only national championship, followed by a national runner-up finish.

Arkansas has not won the SEC tournament since 1994 and has not won a regular-season SEC championship since 2000.

Arkansas has a loaded freshmen class that hopes to make an immediate impact on the court. Arkansas had the No. 2 ranked recruiting class nationally.

Guards Nick Smith Jr. and Anthony Black, along with guard-forward combo Jordan Walsh, were all McDonald’s All-American in high school.

Black, a Texas native, was ranked the No. 1 point guard in the nation, per 247Sports, and a member of the gold-medal USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team. Black and Walsh were two of the top 3 ranked players in Texas during their prep careers. Walsh, a five-star recruit, was the 2022 MaxPreps Missouri High School Basketball Player of the Year when he attended Link Year Academy.

Smith Jr. was one of five finalists for the Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Boys Basketball Player of the Year and a member of the USA Basketball 2022 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team. The two-time MaxPreps Arkansas Player of the Year was rated the top combo guard in the nation by 247Sports.

Arkansas lost its four top scorers from last season, but junior guard Davonte Davis is one of the key returnees. The Arkansas native averaged 8.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game last season.

Where does sports betting stand in Arkansas?

Arkansas was one of the first states in the country to allow sports betting when it went live in November 2018. However, bets were only allowed to be made in-person at the state’s three casinos.

That remained the case until earlier this year, when the Racing Commission voted unanimously to approve a rule change to legalize mobile sports gaming in Arkansas. The online rollout launched in March when the Razorbacks danced their way to a second consecutive Elite 8 appearance.

What are Arkansas’ odds to win the national title?

For the first time at the start of a college basketball season, patrons can bet on games with Arkansas sports apps. Here are the odds for the Razorbacks to hoist some hardware down the road. 

According to DraftKings Sportsbook Arkansas, the Razorbacks are 15-to-1 (+1500) to win the national championship in April.

While Kentucky is the clear-cut favorite to win the SEC regular-season title at +180, Tennessee and Arkansas are both second favorites at +350. Arkansas is +500 to reach the Final Four for the first time since 1995.

At BetMGM Arkansas, the Razorbacks are tied for sixth with Kansas at +1400 to win the national title.

For coverage of the sports betting scene in the state, keep reading BetArkansas.com. The site also is a great source for the best Arkansas sportsbook promos.

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Contributors

Shelby Dermer is a report & journalist for BetArkansas. Shelby has been a sports reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer for the last five years and now lends his expertise to the Arkansas sports betting market. He grew up in Waynesville, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio University.

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