NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Razorback men’s basketball team will play Illinois in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

After an up-and-down season, Razorback merchandise sellers said they hope for a deep run in March Madness.

Steve Jenkins owns Hogman’s Gameday Superstore, and he said people showed their excitement for basketball season with their purchases early in the season.

“There was a lot of hype, multiple NBA guys,” Jenkins said.

Like the team itself, basketball-related sales were up-and-down depending on the outlook for the team.

“For the most part, the Hog fans are still supporting our team,” Jenkins said. “They’re still supporting Coach Musselman. We get a lot of Muss Bus stuff going on.” 

Arkansas has not played Illinois since 2004, and that happened in North Little Rock at the venue currently called Simmons Bank Arena. If the Hogs make a deep tourney run, North Little Rock businesses like Jenkins’ could see the benefit.

“All the suppliers have our orders way ahead of time,” Jenkins said. “If we win, hopefully they ship that same night.”

“We’ll get to what we call ‘hot market,'” Jenkins said. “If we get to the Sweet 16, if we get to the Elite Eight, if we get to the Final Four, all of those have their own type of shirt that is done by a proprietary licensee.”

Jenkins said he’s prepared for this team to go far knowing what is possible in the postseason.

“March Madness is here,” Jenkins said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”