3-seed Arkansas draws Colgate in NCAA Tournament

By: Scottie Bordelon Scottie Bordelon's Twitter account
Published: Sunday, March 14, 2021
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman leads a Hog Call following the Razorbacks' 87-80 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday, March 6, 2021, in Fayetteville.
( Charlie Kaijo)
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman leads a Hog Call following the Razorbacks' 87-80 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday, March 6, 2021, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — It’s official: Arkansas is going dancing.

Watching the selection show from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Razorbacks were selected as a No. 3 seed in the South Region in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday and matched up with 14-seed Colgate. The game will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday at 11:45 a.m. Central on TruTV.

It is the program’s highest seed since Arkansas was a No. 2 seed in 1995.

"I think everybody is really excited," Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman said. "I've been a part of a lot of these, and every single one of them feels the same way when you see your name up there.

"I told (the team) before the show came on that, No. 1, what an honor it was to know that we were playing in this tournament. You can never, ever, ever as a player, as a coach, as an administrator, as a booster, as a former player, an alumni, as a fan, you can never take for granted how hard it is to get into this tournament. It's really hard."

Colgate, which won the Patriot League Tournament championship on Sunday, is 14-1 overall. The Raiders played a conference-only schedule and began their season on Jan. 2. Their only loss came Jan. 3 against Army.

Led by 10th-year coach Matt Langel, Colgate has won 13 straight games. It is led in scoring by 6-0 guard Jordan Burns, who is averaging 17.1 points per game. Five other Raiders players contribute eight-plus points per game.

Colgate (14-1) has made 40% of its threes this season, which ranks third nationally, and has held opponents to 26.1% shooting beyond the arc. That is the best mark in the country.

"We've got to come up with some drills to defend the three, we've got to keep their guards in front of us," Musselman said. "We can't let them get to the hole. They're an analytics team. They make threes, they make layups, so we look forward to the prep over the next few days."

Arkansas is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Musselman, who will be making his fourth tournament appearance in the last five seasons. He took Nevada to three straight tournaments and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2018.

Arkansas (22-6) had won 12 of 13 games before it lost to LSU in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.

The Razorbacks began league play 2-4, including blowout road losses to LSU and Alabama, before winning 12 consecutive games against conference competition.

Arkansas’ only nonconference loss came at Oklahoma State on Jan. 30 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Cowboys lost to Texas in the Big 12 Tournament championship game on Saturday.

Arkansas’ out-of-league schedule, which many viewed as weak before the season, featured three teams that won their conference tournament — Oral Roberts (Summit League), Abilene Christian (Southland) and North Texas (Conference USA). The Razorbacks defeated all three teams, including Abilene Christian on Dec. 22 in Bud Walton Arena with Musselman out due to covid-19 protocols.

Alabama won the SEC Tournament title on Sunday, giving Arkansas four wins over teams that earned automatic bids.

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