The implications are huge for both teams Saturday afternoon when the Florida Gators (15-2, 2-0 SEC East) play host to the Arkansas Razorbacks (12-3, 0-2 SEC West) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center (2 p.m., Raycom Television). This is more than just a battle between closest of friends — Florida coach Billy Donovan and Arkansas coach and former Gator assistant John Pelphrey. It’s a game that could have long-term implications for the post season.
The Gators missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years last season and their hopes of getting back in will require a near perfect record at home. Florida doesn’t have a dominant inside presence although freshman Kenny Kadji is starting to show signs that he’s going to be a very good inside scorer. Without that go-to big guy, the Gators rely heavily on outside shooting and they are a much better shooting team at the O-Dome than they are on the road.
A 3-0 start in the SEC would be huge for Florida since the schedule next week includes games on the road at South Carolina on Wednesday and at Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Arkansas, on the other hand, is 0-2 out of the chute and an 0-3 start would put a lot of pressure on a team whose starting lineup includes two true freshmen and a redshirt freshman. Not many teams that start the SEC 0-3 make it to the NCAA Tournament, so while this isn’t an elimination game for the Razorbacks, it is a game that could impact the rest of the season.
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