Arkansas Wants To Earn Automatic Berth

ATLANTA — The so-called Bracketology experts and Arkansas coach Stan Heath are at odds regarding the Hogs' NCAA Tournament chances heading into today's Southeastern Conference Tournament title game.

The Hogs take on No. 6 Florida, an 80-59 victor over Ole Miss, at noon in the Georgia Dome. In Heath's mind, the Razorbacks have done enough to warrant an at-large berth. "In my opinion, it's really a no-brainer," Heath said after Arkansas' 81-72 victory over Mississippi State in Saturday's semifinals. "I think we removed any doubt, any ifs, that we belong in that field." Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm, two of the most prominent Bracketology experts, disagree. Lunardi said on ESPN, after Arkansas' win Saturday, that he believed the Hogs needed to win today. Palm, the creator of, expanded on that belief. "I think they need to go in with the mentality that they have to win, because I think that's probably the case," Palm said. "The bubble has gotten smaller, and that wasn't necessarily a tournament team they beat today." Palm's point makes sense. Losses in conference tournaments by Xavier, Nevada and Butler yanked three at-large berths from prospective NCAA Tournament teams. The "bubble" has shrunk. Arkansas' players realize this and said they didn't worry about projections anyway. "We can't leave it to the Bracketology guys," Arkansas forward Charles Thomas said. "We've got to take of business ourselves." The Razorbacks' RPI, a key evaluating tool for the selection committee, rose to No. 33, according to Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said Saturday that he believed Arkansas should make the NCAA Tournament. Unequivocally. "I thought the winner of our game would get in," Stansbury said. "Arkansas deserves a chance now to get to the NCAA Tournament. They stepped up, knowing it was us or them. The SEC deserves at least five teams, for sure." Win today, though, and no guesswork is needed. "We came here for an SEC Tournament championship," Arkansas' Sonny Weems said. "So, honestly, I don't care about all of that." Gary Ervin echoed Weems' sentiments. "We packed for four days, and we're playing four games," Ervin said. TODAY'S TICKET NO. 6 FLORIDA VS. ARKANSAS WHEN: Noon TV: CBS (cable channel 5) WHERE: Georgia Dome, Atlanta RECORDS: Florida, 28-5; Arkansas, 21-12 RADIO: KXIO-FM 106.9; KEZA-FM 107.9; KKEG-FM 92.1; KFPW-AM 1230; KQBK-FM 104.7; KHGG-AM 1580; KHGG-FM 103.1; KDYN-AM 1540; KDYN-FM 96.7; KTTG-FM 96.3 COACHES: Florida, Billy Donovan, (254-103, 11th season, 289-123, 13 seasons); Arkansas, Stan Heath (82-69, 5th season; 112-74 overall, 6 seasons) SERIES: Tied at 9-9 (Tied at 1-1 in neutral-site games) LAST MEETING: Arkansas lost Florida 79-72 on Jan. 9 in Gainesville LINEUPS ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (21-12) PROBABLE STARTERS Name Ht. Cl. PPG RPG G Gary Ervin 6-0 Junior 10.1 3.5 G Patrick Beverley 6-1 Freshman 14.1 4.4 C Steven Hill 7-0 Junior 6.2 4.4 F Charles Thomas 6-8 Junior 11.1 6.1 F Sonny Weems 6-6 Junior 11.6 4.8 KEY RESERVES F Darian Townes 6-10 Junior 8.2 4.4 G Stefan Welsh 6-2 Freshman 3.4 0.8 F Michael Washington 6-10 Freshman 2.9 1.4 FLORIDA (28-5) PROBABLE STARTERS Name Ht. Cl. PPG RPG G Taurean Green 6-0 Junior 13.2 2.4 G Lee Humphrey 6-2 Senior 9.8 1.3 C Al Horford 6-10 Junior 13.1 8.9 F Corey Brewer 6-9 Junior 12.6 4.5 F Joakim Noah 6-11 Junior 12.0 8.1 KEY RESERVES G Walter Hodge 6-0 Sophomore 6.4 1.3 F Chris Richard 6-9 Senior 5.7 3.4 F Dan Werner 6-7 Freshman 2.1 1.4

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