The average Arkansas fan might look at the non-conference men’s basketball schedule in one of two ways.
One point of view is to have the five-star freshmen dangle like sugar plums and not have any worry about what lies ahead. The other, denies that any team should even step on the same court as the Razorbacks, because why play the game?
Both ways, while less stressful, are no fun. Join us as we break down each Arkansas hoops non-conference opponent and what to expect out of each game.
The early parts of the season will be important for head coach Eric Musselman to figure out his rotation and for younger players to get acclimated to the college game. We start our multi-part series by looking at Arkansas’ first opponent of the season — North Dakota State.
vs. North Dakota State – Nov. 7
With a record of 23-10 last season, the Bison always have a solid program. Two losses came against bigger programs in Arizona and Creighton. Outscored 177-100, North Dakota State was splattered in both contests.
A conference record of 13-5 would help lead the Bison to the Summit League Championship where they would ultimately lose. Returning are just five players with production from last season. Their leading scorer, Rocky Kreuser, is no longer with the team.
74.8 points per game
46.2% field goals and 35.8% 3-pointers
76% free throws
+4.7 rebound margin
-2.5 turnover margin
68.7 points per game
42% field goals and 32% 3-pointers
9.2 turnovers forced per game
With the top two scorers from last season departing, the third-leading scorer remains. 6-foot-11 junior Grant Nelson averaged 11.6 points per game on 50.8% shooting to go with 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game in 2021-22.
Boden Skunberg is the leading scoring guard who returns. The junior averaged 5.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Joining the five returners are five freshmen, only one of which received a 247Sports Composite rating.
Two transfers join the recruiting class. By way of Division III Illinois Wesleyan, Luke Yoder is a guard who averaged 11.6 points, four rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Jacari White is the second prominent transfer from the State College of Florida.
Called “explosive” in his breakdown, the guard averaged 13.5 points per game on 44% shooting and 38.8% from deep. White is also a stellar free throw shooter.
Game Difficulty – 2/10
The addition of White brings a great athlete to a team that desperately needs extra athleticism. A theme that will occur a lot is the inability to match up with Arkansas’ size. The Razorbacks have four players listed at 6-8 or taller.
Lots of lost production and not enough intrigue from the portal doesn’t make the Bison seem all that impressive. They will have a lot of chemistry to build with the meshing of five freshmen and two transfer additions for game one.
Arkansas will have to do the same, but the exhibition game against Texas should help the early-season jitters. This one should be no contest at Bud Walton Arena.
Featured image courtesy of North Dakota State athletics