LITTLE ROCK — Two Arkansas teams with markedly different records are in the same predicament.

LITTLE ROCK — Two Arkansas teams with markedly different records are in the same predicament.


Both the Razorbacks (12-11) and the Little Rock Trojans (21-2) must win out to secure a prominent spot in the NCAA Tournament speculation at the end of the regular season. That’s fair for Arkansas; not so much for Little Rock.


Ironically, if winning the conference tournament is the only available ticket into the NCAA, Arkansas has almost as good a chance as Little Rock since no SEC team is dominant to the point of Kentucky last year and the Trojans will be in the crosshairs of every Sun Belt opponent.


A brief break from basketball to note truisms reinforced in the Super Bowl —fast, superb tacklers, turnovers, and a solid kicking game can offset shortcomings on offense.


Little Rock has eight games remaining — all of them the second time around against conference opponents — and the next two weeks should determine whether the Trojans finish 29-2. The Trojans’ next four games are on the road against teams they beat by one, 20, 10, and 13; three of their last four are at home.


Even if the Trojans lose one more they will win the league championship, but a loss to a Louisiana-Monroe or a Georgia State will severely damage their resume in the eyes of the NCAA Selection Committee. To ignore a team that wins 27 or 28 would be a slight in today’s college basketball where Villanova is the sixth team to be No. 1 in The AP poll this year and all but two teams in the Top 20 have lost three or more.


The last time the Sun Belt landed two teams in the NCAA Tournament, Middle Tennessee won the 2012-13 conference championship with a 19-1 record and Western Kentucky earned the automatic bid by winning the league tournament.


Although the Sun Belt’s RPI is only No. 17 among the 32 conferences, the Trojans have earned a spot near the top of the Mid-Major poll and a respectable 59 RPI.


The epitome of parity this season, the SEC received five NCAA Tournament bids last year and might duplicate that number this year.


Although Kentucky somehow managed to lose to Tennessee last week after building a 21-point lead, the Wildcats are still my pick to win the conference. With eight games to go, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Texas A&M are each 7-3 and one game behind LSU.


The guess is that 14-4 will earn at least a share of the league championship and that 13-5 might be the minimum for getting an NCAA bid.


Not that long ago South Carolina was off to a 15-0 start and the Aggies were 7-0 in the league and No. 5 in the country. On Saturday, there were 23 lead changes in the first 35 minutes before South Carolina put together a little run and beat the Aggies 81-78 and recorded a rare road victory.


SEC teams are 28-77 on the road this year and only South Carolina (4-3) and Ole Miss (5-4) are above .500 away from the friendly confines. As a result, two is the longest current winning streak in the league.


At 5-5, Arkansas makes two trips to Mississippi this week and needs a split to be in position for a late-season run at a conference record above .500. Only 1-6 on the road, the Razorbacks will beat Mississippi State (9-13, 2-8) tonight if they shoot well from 3-point range.


Defeating Ole Miss and Stefan Moody is more difficult.


Beginning the following week, Arkansas plays in Fayetteville against Auburn (3-7), Missouri (1-9), and LSU and that adds up to an opportunity to reach 9-6.


Although LSU’s Ben Simmons is the league’s best player, the Tigers won at home by two because Arkansas turned the ball over in the final seconds and an air ball was converted into a basket.


Both the SEC and Sun Belt tournaments begin the second week in March.


Harry King is sports columnist for GateHouse Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: hleonk42@gmail.com