Alabama Basketball Opponent Preview: Arkansas Razorbacks

Alabama basketball will put its impressive resume to the test once again when it goes on the road to play the 15th ranked Arkansas Razorbacks. This should be a closely contested game between two of the SEC’s best teams, and will showcase future NBA talent all over the court.

Alabama basketball is 13-2 (3-0 SEC) and has already recorded the best road win in college basketball, defeating the top-ranked Houston Cougars in their own gym.

Arkansas will be another worthy opponent, even without two of its best players. Freshman guard Nick Smith and sophomore forward Trevon Brazile are out for the foreseeable future with knee injuries.

Smith is considered a one-and-done lottery pick on the wing, while Brazile is an extremely athletic and versatile big, comparable to Alabama’s Noah Clowney. Smith and Brazile both average double-figures, but Arkansas has been good even amidst their absence.

The Razorbacks are 12-3 with losses to Creighton, LSU, and Auburn. The Hogs’ notable wins include defeats of San Diego State, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Alabama and Arkansas only have one common opponent at the current moment, both disposing of South Dakota State fairly easily.

With Smith and Brazile sidelined, Arkansas is led by a pair of big wings in Ricky Council IV and Anthony Black. Council IV is a very athletic volume scorer, posting 18.1 points per game (3rd in SEC). He came to Fayetteville from Wichita State in the offseason, and has been one of the most impactful transfers in the country. Council IV has scored in double figures in all but one game for the Razorbacks, eclipsing the 20-point mark on five different occasions.

Freshman Anthony Black, one of the country’s most versatile players, is essentially a 6’7” point forward. Black already has the body and athleticism of an NBA player, and he will likely be one-and-done. Black’s biggest strengths may be his court vision, IQ, and passing ability. He averages 12.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and a team-high 3.8 assists per game.

Fellow freshman Jordan Walsh is a long and bouncy two-way wing. He excels on the defensive end of the floor, and is somewhat reminiscent of former Baylor wings Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan. If Walsh guards Alabama superstar Brandon Miller, it could be one of the most entertaining matchups between freshmen in college basketball this season.

Junior guard Devo Davis is a fierce competitor and brings lots of energy as well as postseason experience to the Hogs’ backcourt. Freshman guard Joseph Pinion has seen increased minutes as of late and is a solid outside shooter.

Without Brazile in the lineup, Arkansas has employed a by-committee approach in the frontcourt. It has experience, toughness, and athleticism with Rhode Island transfers Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, Arizona State transfer Jalen Graham, and senior Kamani Johnson.

This should be a very competitive game that will challenge the physical and mental fortitude of both squads. Given Arkansas’ key injuries, Alabama Basketball has the slightly more talented team on paper. Still, Bama has injuries of its own, and it isn’t easy to win on the road in the SEC.

A win in Fayetteville would be huge, and would move Alabama Basketball closer to securing a favorable seeding in the NCAA tournament.