The Little Rock Trojans have already set (and extended) a school record for most wins to start a season. Now they are looking to do something no other Trojan team has done, receive a national ranking.
Here is the thing, they deserve it. Only 14 undefeated teams remain in NCAA men’s basketball. Of those only South Carolina Davidson, and the Little Rock Trojans remain unranked. All received votes in last Monday’s poll and South Carolina and Little Rock have both racked up two wins since then. Davidson plays against #9 North Carolina tonight.
In their 38 year history of NCAA Division I basketball, Little Rock has never received an official ranking from any major poll. Many people seem to believe they received a ranking in Mike Newell’s tenure from 1984-1990. The Trojans did seem to receive some votes into the poll but never enough to garner a ranking. The data from the old polls (which only covered 20 teams until 1990) do not always record those receiving votes, but we could find an instance of the Trojans receiving votes in a February 9th, 1988 poll that would have put them #40 in the nation.
Little Rock should get a crack at that first ever ranking this week. Four of the bottom 10 teams in last week’s top 25 poll received a loss that could push them out of the rankings. In addition several teams receiving more votes than the Trojans picked up a loss this past week.
The AP poll is released each Monday, and the Trojans enter the poll being ranked #7 in RPI which is a measure of a team’s record compared to their strength of schedule. The only unranked team ahead of them in RPI is Davidson, who again faces a top 10 opponent tonight.
The Trojans picked up a 64-54 win on the road against Idaho this Saturday, pushing their record to 7-0. The Trojans have seen strong bench play all season, with the bench outscoring the starters 39-25 in the Idaho game.
If the Trojans are not able to reach a poll ranking they should have a good chance over the next couple of weeks. Next week Little Rock faces DePaul on the road, the following week they complete their series against Central Arkansas on the road Wednesday followed by Northern Arizona at home on Sunday December 20th. The Trojans should be favored in all three of those games giving them two more chances to obtain a ranking and the potential to go 10-0.
Little Rock will face their toughest test of the year on December 22 against Texas Tech in Lubbock. The Red Raiders are 5-1 and looking for respect of their own.