[UPDATE – LIVE UPDATES of Hogs basketball in Europe Game 2 is here]
Fans who don’t mind forking over a little money will get an early glimpse of the Arkansas basketball team this week.
The Razorbacks are overseas for an 11-day trip that includes a pair of games in each Spain and Italy. All four games will available to watch on FloHoops, the basketball arm of FloSports’ streaming network, the UA announced earlier this month.
However, getting your first look at Nick Smith Jr., Anthony Black, Jordan Walsh and the brand-new 2022-23 Arkansas basketball team won’t be free.
Much like Netflix and Hulu, FloSports is a subscription service. The monthly fee is $29.99, which is what Best of Arkansas Sports recommends doing, but it’s critical to remember to cancel the subscription immediately following the final game or before next month because it will continue to charge that fee every month until it’s canceled.
It is important to note that when signing up, you’ll be given the option of choosing a subscription that’s marketed as $12.50 per month, which is nearly 60% off the monthly rate. Don’t be fooled, though. That is the annual option and you would be immediately charged $150 for one year of access to a service you will likely only use for a week — unless you’re a fan of the niche sports it regularly carries.
What to Expect from FloSports
At this point, it’s appropriate to preface what’s to follow by acknowledging that FloSports is better than nothing — even if it’s only a notch above an #ESPiNto production.
There was no way to watch when Arkansas played in Spain just six years ago. In fact, until the SEC Network came along, it wasn’t uncommon for regular-season non-conference games in Bud Walton Arena, much less on the other side of the globe, not to have viewing options.
Even today, there’s still an occasional exhibition game or open practice with no TV or streaming, requiring a rogue fan to go live on their mobile device — like Twitter user @pinto479 and his #ESPiNto broadcasts.
All that said, though, FloSports is far from what fans have come to expect from the ESPN family of channels/services, including SEC Network and SEC Network-Plus, and the traditional broadcast networks (ABC, CBS and NBC).
Arkansas baseball fans are already well-versed in FloSports, as the service streamed the Razorbacks’ two trips to Texas for early-season events the last two years — the 2021 College Baseball Showdown in Arlington and the 2022 Round Rock Classic.
During the latter of those two events, the broadcast crashed multiple times. A sizable chunk of the game between Stanford and Louisiana-Lafayette wasn’t broadcast at all because of a “venue power outage” — a reason wasn’t revealed by FloSports’ social media accounts until more than 30 minutes after the fact.
If those kind of technical difficulties happen at venues like Dell Diamond, a Triple-A ballpark in Round Rock, Texas, it’s scary to think about the issues that might arise in gyms with questionable WiFi connections in foreign countries several time zones away.
We won’t even get into the nitty gritty critiques of the broadcasts, such as camera work and replays. Instead, we’ll repeat what was said earlier: It’s better than nothing.
Where Art Thou, SEC Network?
Of course, the Arkansas basketball team playing on FloSports begs the question: Why can’t the SEC Network carry the games? Or stream them on SEC Network-Plus — or even ESPN-Plus?
That would be ideal for fans because most already have a way to watch those services, as that’s what most Arkansas football, basketball and baseball games are on already.
It wouldn’t be unheard of for the network to pick up a foreign tour, either. When it heads out of the country, Kentucky’s games regularly get televised. This year is no different, as the SEC Network will air all four of its games in the Bahamas. The SEC Network is also carrying all three of Auburn’s games in Israel, beginning Tuesday.
Considering the Wildcats are a national brand and one of the sport’s blue-blood programs, it’s not particularly surprising that their foreign tour is televised.
However, the SEC has had only one team in each of the last two Elite Eights. It wasn’t Kentucky. Nor was it Auburn. It was Arkansas in 2021 and Arkansas in 2022. The Razorbacks also have an SEC-best 26-9 conference record over the last two years — four more wins than both the Wildcats and Tigers.
Of course, this is the same network that kept giving the Razorbacks 11 a.m. kickoffs in football even as a ranked team and originally planned for only eight Arkansas baseball games to be nationally televised — tied for the fewest in the SEC — despite it coming off a season in which it was No. 1 most of the year.
In the grand scheme of things, though, those things don’t matter. It’d be nice for fans and recruits to more easily watch the Razorbacks, but that pales in comparison to the impact simply winning can have on a program.
And Arkansas has done plenty of that in recent years. In fact, whether or not ESPN wants to acknowledge it, the Razorbacks were just named the SEC’s athletic program, and fifth-best overall in the country, by CBS Sports.
Of course, CBS could just be trying to atone for the error it made when discussing Arkansas’ basketball team just a few months ago.
Click here to read our preview of Arkansas’ trip and what head coach Eric Musselman hopes to get out of it.
How to Watch Arkansas Basketball in Europe
Tuesday, Aug. 9 — vs. Valencia Seleccion (Valencia, Spain) — 12:30 p.m. CT on FloSports
Thursday, Aug. 11 — vs. Barcelona Todo-Estrella (Barcelona, Spain) — 1:30 p.m. CT on FloSports
Saturday, Aug. 13 — vs. Orange1 Basket Bassano (Como, Italy) — 12:30 p.m. CT on FloSports
Monday, Aug. 15 — vs. Bakken Bears (Como, Italy) — Noon CT on FloSports
Other Arkansas Basketball Tidbits
Something to keep an eye on when Arkansas takes the floor Tuesday is how much, if any, star freshman Nick Smith Jr. plays because he is dealing with a finger injury suffered about a week ago. There was an initial fear that he had ligament damage, but an X-ray and MRI revealed that it was just a deep bone bruise.
Musselman told reporters on Wednesday that he was considered “day-to-day” and the team is understandably taking a cautious approach to it. His availability is likely dependent on his latest check-up, which was Friday, and how he feels the day of the first game.
“We’re not going to play anybody if there’s any fear of (injury),” Musselman said. “But again, it’s a bone bruise, so a lot of bruises are pain tolerance, swelling, but we’re not going to play him unless he feels 100% and the doctor feels 100%.”
Based on the photos he recently shared on Twitter, though, the finger doesn’t seem to be bothering him.
Aside from that, the Razorbacks are believed to be at full strength and will have a full roster in Europe. The latter part of that was questioned when the official Arkansas Twitter account shared a team photo shortly after their arrival and freshmen Jordan Walsh and Joseph Pinion were noticeably absent.
However, Best of Arkansas Sports confirmed that they made the trip and Musselman made sure fans got the message by providing photographic evidence.
Watch clips – for FREE – from a recent Arkansas basketball practice here:
More coverage of Arkansas basketball from BoAS…