Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Arkansas ranks 41st in RPI
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn watches from the dugout during the Razorbacks' 17-9 loss to Alabama on March 21, 2014 at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas moved up nine spots to No. 41 in the latest NCAA ratings performance index (RPI) following a three-game road sweep of Missouri.
The Razorbacks' current ranking is their highest this season and up 75 spots from their initial ranking in the RPI on April 1. The final RPI rankings will be released next Monday when the NCAA announces its 64-team regional field.
Arkansas has helped its case for an at-large berth into the NCAA regionals by winning six of its final seven games, including four straight road games. Road wins are weighted more heavily in RPI than home wins.
Perhaps even more importantly than the higher RPI this week was which teams Arkansas jumped in the poll. The Razorbacks moved ahead of two SEC teams in RPI and now rank 10th among teams in a league that could receive a record number of at-large bids this year.
Arkansas has 12 wins against RPI top 30 teams this season, including series wins over Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Alabama. The Razorbacks continue to be hurt in the ranking because of a strength of schedule considerably weakened by five games against Grambling State and Mississippi Valley State, which have ranked among the four worst teams in RPI this season.
Arkansas will play Texas A&M on Tuesday in the SEC Tournament. The tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA regionals.