It's Time To Dance

Fifth-seeded and No. 21 Arkansas (26-8) will meet 12th-seeded Wofford (28-6) in the nightcap of the four NCAA Tournament games to be played in Jacksonville, Fla., as the Razorbacks make their return to the Big Dance after a seven-year absence.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It’s no secret that 12 seeds have been known to knock off 5 seeds when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.

In fact, 12th seeds are 6-2 in what is technically called the second round of the last two tournaments.

But Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson really isn’t into numbers and thinks that will have no bearing whatsoever when his fifth-seeded Razorbacks (26-8) battle 12th-seeded Wofford (28-6) Thursday at around 8:50 p.m.

Instead he thinks it is a match-up of two good teams and it matters most who shows up ready to play on Thursday night at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

“Well those 12th seeds must have been pretty darned good,” Anderson said Wednesday. “That’s how I see it. On any given night, a one-shot game, it could be that one shining moment where teams play with confidence.

“Wofford is a very good basketball team and if your team comes in with the mindset thinking you are going to just show up and win, you’ve got another thing coming,” Anderson added. “I think the preparation is very, very important.”

?Perhaps Arkansas senior guard Rashad Madden summed it up rather simply.

“We know that if we come out and play hard and do what we have to do on the defensive end, then we don’t have to worry about a 12th seed beating a five seed,” Madden said.

?Razorback sophomore forward Bobby Portis (6-11, 242) — 5 inches taller than any Wofford starter - echoed that same sentiment.

“We just know that if we come out and play our style of basketball, everything else will take care of itself,” Portis said.

Anderson certainly doesn’t think his SEC runner-us will take the Southern Conference champions lightly.

“They’ve won 28 games,” Anderson said. “You don’t just happen to win 28 games. I think they played 15 games on the road; they won 10 of them.

“That tells you, you’ve got some leadership. you’ve got some veteran players, you’ve got some guys that are not afraid,” Anderson added.

Arkansas players acknowledged they didn’t know who Wofford was when the pairing was announced and still don’t know a ton about the smallest college (1,600 students) represented in the field.

It may be the biggest game in Terriers’ history, but Anderson said it is not a small one in the history of this current Razorback squad.

“This is one of their bigger games of their lives, too,” Anderson said. “This is the first time for them having the opportunity to play in the tournament.

“As a coach you do worry about that,” Anderson added. “But to me these guys, throughout the year, they have been conditioned with the understanding that every game is a big game.

“…We’re playing some pretty good basketball and I know Wofford is playing some really good basketball so it should be an outstanding game,” Anderson continued.

Wofford, who has won eight games in a row and 15 of its last 16, has not played in 10 days since beating Furman 67-64 in the Southern Conference Tournament.

Anderson and his wife Marcheita actually watched that game live.

“I’m watching Wofford versus Furman and it looked like Furman had the game in hand and all of a sudden they (Terriers) made plays,” Anderson said.

It will be the Razorbacks’ fourth game in seven days.

“Coach A has done a great job of just making us go to the workout room and take ice baths and and try and get some recovery.”

Madden lauded his team’s training staff.

“I feel like our training staff does a great job of getting our bodies and stuff recovered,” Madden said. “I feel like this is stuff we’re used to. We’ve played games like that before so we’ll be ready.”

Freshman point guard Anton Beard is sure his team will be ready for the challenge.

“It’s a new season for us and it’s the NCAA Tournament so it’s not hard to get up for something you want,” Beard said. “We’ve all got our minds on one thing and that’s to win a championship.”

Madden knows this could be the last Razorback game in his career if things don’t go well.

“We know our next game could be our last so we’ve got to be ready and be prepared,” Madden said.

Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson gives instructions to junior guard Michael Qualls during Wednesday's practice in Jacksonville, Fla.

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