Arkansas faces Illinois Thursday in NCAA Tournament

Arkansas guard Nick Smith Jr. (3) looks to pass as Texas A&M guard Dexter Dennis (0) defends...
Arkansas guard Nick Smith Jr. (3) looks to pass as Texas A&M guard Dexter Dennis (0) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Friday, March 10, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn.(AP Photo/John Amis)(JOHN AMIS | AP)
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 12:05 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 7:42 PM CDT
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Arkansas, seeded eighth in the West Region, will face Illinois, the region’s No. 9 seed, on Thursday, March 16 in the opening round of the 2023 NCAA Championship. The Razorbacks and Fighting Illini will play in Des Moines, Iowa at Wells Fargo Arena. The game will tip off at 3:30 p.m. CT and be televised on TBS.

Arkansas earns its 36th NCAA bid and third straight, marking 2006, ‘07, and ‘08 the Hogs have played in three consecutive NCAA Tournaments. This is the third time in program history Arkansas has earned a No. 8 seed.

Arkansas is 22-12 in NCAA Tournament openers and owns a 48-34 all-time record in NCAA action.

The Razorbacks, coming off back-to-back NCAA Elite 8 berths, are #21 in the NCAA NET (one spot lower than last season at this time when the Hogs were a #4 seed) and owns the #3 strength of schedule in the country according to Also, according to, Arkansas has the #4 non-conference RPI and #7 non-conference strength of schedule. rates Arkansas #19 in the nation.

Arkansas won 20 games for the fourth straight year as head coach Eric Musselman extended his streak to eight 20-win seasons in eight years as a collegiate coach. Also, this marks the sixth straight year that an NCAA Tournament has been held that Musselman has led his teams to the Big Dance.

This will be the sixth time Arkansas has faced Illinois. The Illini own a 5-0 advantage in the series.

With a first-round win, Arkansas would face the winner of No. 1 seed Kansas and No. 16 seed Northern Kentucky on Saturday, March 18.

Of the 26 teams the Razorbacks faced this season, 11 are in the NCAA Tournament.