Despite Struggles, Arkansas Basketball Maintains Current Top 25 Streak

Despite Struggles, Arkansas Basketball Maintains Current Top 25 Streak
By Christopher Boan
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

It’s been a rocky start to the new year for the Arkansas men’s basketball program, with four losses through its first five conference games.

The Razorbacks currently sit 25th in the Associated Press poll, trending downward from their season-high of ninth (four times this season). They dropped to 13th on Jan. 2 and 15th on Jan. 9 before falling another 10 spots this week.

The team’s recent slide has also impacted Arkansas’ championship odds, with the Razorbacks going from +1500 to win it all on Caesars Sportsbook during the preseason to +3000 as of Tuesday morning.

Arkansas sports betting has been legal since last year. The state’s three casinos — Saracen, Southland and Oaklawn — are the only operators offering mobile sports betting in the state.

Arkansas’ SEC championship odds are in similar shape, with oddsmakers at Caesars Sportsbook listing the Razorbacks at +5000 to win the conference, ranking sixth overall.

Still, the Razorbacks find themselves in the AP top 25 for an 11th consecutive week, matching last year’s team for the most appearances in the poll this century.

As far as the program’s AP poll stats are concerned, Arkansas has appeared 47 times in the top 25 between 2000 and 2023, with 27 of those coming in the last three seasons.

Weeks in AP Top 25 Last 10 Years

Year Weeks in AP Top 25
2022-2311
2021-2211
2020-215
2018-190
2017-181
2016-175
2015-160
2014-1510
2013-140
2012-130


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Arkansas Experiencing Resurgence Under Musselman

It’s no stretch to say fourth-year coach Eric Musselman has resurrected the Razorbacks program, posting the second-highest winning percentage (.720) of any Arkansas coach since 1950, behind Eddie Sutton.

Sutton went 260-75 (.776) in Fayetteville, between 1975 and 1985. The only coach to win a national championship at Arkansas — Nolan Richardson — posted a .696 winning percentage during his tenure. 

Musselman still has a ways to go to catch either Sutton or Richardson when it comes to conference titles won, with Sutton capturing eight regular season or tournament championships, while Richardson captured seven and four apiece. Musselman, by comparison, has yet to win either an SEC regular season or conference tournament title.

Still, the turnaround Musselman has led at Arkansas is impressive, as the Razorbacks have appeared in more AP polls (27) since the start of the 2020 season than they did between 2000 and 2019 (20).

How Arkansas’ Current AP Poll Run Compares

Prior to Musselman’s arrival in 2019, the Razorbacks’ most AP poll appearances in a single season this century was 10, during the 2014-15 campaign under then-head coach Mike Anderson.

Between 2015 and 2019, Arkansas appeared in the AP top-25 once, when they were ranked 22nd in the Jan. 1 poll during the 2017-18 season.

In Musselman’s first season (2019-20), the Razorbacks failed to appear in the AP poll, but made it five times during his second year with the program.

Aside from Musselman, the only other Arkansas coaches to lead the program to multiple AP poll appearances in a single season were John Pelphrey (two appearances in 2007-08) and Richardson (seven appearances in 2000-01).

Razorbacks’ Recent Success Leading to Greater Odds

The Razorbacks ability to reach the Elite Eight in 2021 and 2022 caught the attention of oddsmakers this offseason, with Arkansas’ championship odds going from +3000 in 2020 and 2021 to +1500 to start this season.

Before that, the Razorbacks’ best preseason championship odds (dating back to 2012) were +10000, which is where oddsmakers had Arkansas prior to the tip of the 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons.

Despite Arkansas’ recent SEC struggles, the school still has the same championship odds (+3000) they did prior to each of the last two seasons, showing how far the program has come in the last four years.

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Contributors

Christopher Boan is a lead writer at BetArkansas.com specializing in covering state issues. He has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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