By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — For the third consecutive season, the Arkansas men’s basketball team has entered a campaign ranked in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll as the Razorbacks debuted at No. 14 in the AP’s initial rankings for 2023-24 that were released on Monday morning.
Arkansas also entered the ’22-23 and ’21-22 seasons with preseason AP rankings of No. 10 and No. 16, respectively. The last time the Hoop Hogs’ men’s program had back-to-back-to-back preseason rankings was ’94-95 (No. 1), ’95-96 (No. 16), and ’96-97 (No. 13). Prior to the ’94-95 through ’96-97 three-season span, the program was also ranked AP preseason No. 2 in ’93-94, a campaign that ultimately led to a national championship.
Arkansas is one of five SEC teams in the AP’s preseason rankings, joining Tennessee at No. 9, Texas A&M at No. 15, Kentucky at No. 16, and Alabama at No. 24. Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, and Florida also received votes.
When looking at Arkansas’ 31-game regular season schedule plus one exhibition opponent, the Razorbacks have a combined eight games against teams in the AP’s initial rankings when counting home contests against No. 2 Duke in the first-ever ACC/SEC Challenge in late November, No. 3 Purdue (charity exhibition game), and No. 9 Tennessee; home-and-away against both No. 15 Texas A&M and No. 16 Kentucky, and a road game against No. 24 Alabama.
As part of their three-game, tournament-format trip to the Battle 4 Atlantis in The Bahamas in late November, the Hogs could face either No. 19 North Carolina or No. 22 Villanova in their third and final game of the event.
The AP’s initial No. 1 team for ’23-24 — Kansas — lost as a defending national champion and a No. 1 seed to 8th-seeded Arkansas, 72-71, in March for the right to advance to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in the last game the Jayhawks played in ’22-23.
The Razorbacks have two upcoming October exhibition home games at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville — against Division II Texas-Tyler on Friday, Oct. 20, and against Big Ten powerhouse Purdue on Saturday, Oct. 28 — before opening their 31-game regular season against Alcorn State on Nov. 6 at BWA.
Arkansas has five returnees from its NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 run last season, including the all-league-caliber duo of forward Trevon Brazile and guard Davonte “Devo” Davis, to go along with eight highly regarded newcomers comprised of six D1 transfers and two players from the high school ranks.
The Hogs debuted at No. 14 in KenPom.com‘s initial ’23-24 college basketball Division 1 ratings that were released on Sunday, Oct. 15. Purdue is ranked No. 1 according to KenPom.