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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Hogs’ way-too-early ranking is way too early

Jaylin Williams' intentions to test the NBA waters were known, but the Caesars Superdome floor was still covered with confetti when ESPN announced its way-too-early No. 1 for next basketball season late Monday night.

It was the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Duke, who eliminated the Razorbacks from the NCAA Tournament, has the No. 1 recruiting class with four 5-star players and was No. 6.

The author, Jeff Borzello, had only Jeremy Roach returning as a starter for the Blue Devils, who for the first time in 42 years doesn't return Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The Kansas Jayhawks, who had the confetti shower after beating North Carolina 72-69 to claim the national championship, was No. 4 and the Tar Heels were No. 5.

Was it a wild guess or a bold one to name Arkansas No. 1 for the 2022-23 season?


It will take Eric Musselman some time to work his magic.

In his two years at Arkansas, early in the conference season, he has tweaked his lineup and created a better chemistry.

Before this year's NCAA Tournament, JD Notae spent considerable time talking about how this season's Razorbacks had developed a chemistry, not just on the court but off it.

Chemistry almost carried the Tar Heels to the winner's circle Monday night.

With Kansas opening up on its tiptoes and finessing all over the court, North Carolina bowed up and backed down the Jayhawks, taking a shocking 40-25 lead into intermission.

During halftime, Bill Self talked to his team from his heart.

When the Jayhawks came back on the court, they were the aggressors and chipped away at the huge lead until it was their's, and they held off a very good UNC team for the victory.

Maybe it doesn't mean a lot now, but North Carolina was a No. 8 seed -- one of only five ACC teams invited to play on college basketball's biggest stage.

The ACC had two teams make the Final Four and finished with a 14-5 record. Duke was a No. 2 seed and the next best seed was North Carolina.

Still, Kansas outscored North Carolina 47-29 in the second half.

It was a fun game to watch, probably one with great ratings because both are historic blue bloods of basketball.

Both coaches succeeded Roy Williams at their schools.

Self, who was once in line for the Arkansas job for a night, was the most experienced and still seemed smug when his team was losing.

In case you haven't heard the story of Self and Arkansas, it was right after Nolan Richardson left, and then-Athletic Director Frank Broyles called Self to tell him he was his next coach.

Self was at Illinois but had made no secret of his interest in coaching where one of his heroes, Eddie Sutton, coached.

When Self didn't call to confirm the next morning, he was chased down and said that Broyles had called and said the powers at the UA were afraid Richardson was going to sue and they needed to go a different direction.

A year later, Self was named head coach at Kansas, and that's a job he would have left Arkansas for after a year, so it all worked out for the best.

He got his second national championship, but he still is under a NCAA shadow. But his bosses have basically told the NCAA to go away with a "We've done nothing wrong."

As for Arkansas being named the way-too-early No. 1 for next season, it is way too early and it was counting on Au'Diese Toney returning for his covid-eligible season giving Musselman him and Devo Davis as experienced hands to go with the three 5-star recruits. Toney has opted to try the NBA and will sign with an agent.

Yet, if Williams returns, the Hogs could be No. 1. But it will most likely be late when he makes his decision, maybe very late.

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