Kentucky will win the SEC again going away thanks to another historic recruiting class but after that it is anyone’s guess. Evidence of that is the fact that one magazine picked Arkansas to finish behind the Wildcats but the same Arkansas team was picked 11th in the pre-season SEC poll.
That same Arkansas squad faces an interesting opening game on Friday when they host Summit League favorite Fort Wayne. Coach Jon Coffman enters his third year and after leading the Mastodons to post-season berths in his first two years and 24 wins last season, this may be the year for Fort Wayne to make a third straight post-season but also win a game.
Fort Wayne returns three starters but must figure out how to replace the 19 points per game that was lost when Max Landis graduated. They will look to senior guard Mo Evans who averaged 16.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game last season. John Konchar is also a key returner who averaged nearly a double-double as a freshman (13 points and 9.2 rebounds).
Arkansas returns arguably the SEC’s best non-Kentucky player in senior guard Moses Kingsley. Kingsley averaged nearly 16 points and nine rebounds last season. Along with Kingsley the Razorbacks also return leading scorer Dusty Hannahs and his 16.5 points per game. After a trip to the NCAA Tournament two years ago Mike Anderson’s squad finished 16-16 last season.
This may not be a game that jumps out to people but it can be a statement game for both teams. A win for Arkansas gets them off on the right foot in a year when the SEC is a coin toss behind Kentucky. A win for Fort Wayne gives them confidence as they head into a non-conference slate that includes games with Indiana and Notre Dame as they look to take another step in the evolution of their program.