Don't know much about Wofford? Neither does Arkansas
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Arkansas didn't know anything about Wofford when the NCAA Tournament pairings were announced Sunday night.
Three days later, the Razorbacks are still in the dark.
''Our team really hasn't went over them yet,'' said star forward Bobby Portis, the Southeastern Conference player of the year. ''Coach just always tries to preach we aren't worried about the other team, like, our team is just worried about what we do.''
Arkansas does plan to go over a scouting report Thursday - a few hours before the game - but it's not the kind of detailed preparation that should make anyone feel overly confident about picking the fifth-seeded Razorbacks (26-8) as they try to buck a tourney trend against the 12th-seeded Terriers (28-6) on Thursday in the West Region.
No. 12 seeds are 6-2 the last two years against No. 5 seeds. Harvard, North Dakota State and Stephen F. Austin pulled upsets in 2014, and California, Mississippi and Oregon did the same the previous year.
''Well, those 12 seeds must have been pretty darned good,'' Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. ''That's how I see it. But on any given night, a one-shot game, it could be that shining moment where teams play with confidence. Wofford is a very good basketball team, and if your team comes in with the mindset (or) thinking you're just going to show up and win, you've got another thing coming. I think the preparation is very, very important.''
Yet, the Razorbacks admittedly haven't studied Wofford, the Southern Conference champions that have won eight straight games and 15 of 16.
''I'm more worried about what we do than what other people do,'' Anderson said.
The Razorbacks seem pretty confident as they get ready for their first NCAA Tournament game since 2008. And for good reason. They've won 10 of 13, and two of those losses came against top-ranked and unbeaten Kentucky.
Then again, it's hard to feel comfy when facing a No. 12 seed.
''We're happy that in the past, luck has been on the side of the 12 seed,'' Wofford guard Karl Cochran said. ''But we're not really paying that too much attention. If we get caught up too much in the past - it's been popular for the 12 seed to beat the 5 seed - we'll lose. We feel like it's already set in stone, and it's not.''
Aside from the 5-12 matchup and history, here are some things to know about Wofford and Arkansas:
HISTORIC SEASON: Wofford, a tiny school from Spartanburg, South Carolina, already set a school record for wins (28) and conference wins (16) and got a victory at North Carolina State in mid-December. So there's some belief that the Terriers can extend their success against the Razorbacks. If it did happen, coach Mike Young said he ''may just start running back to Spartanburg.'' Added forward Lee Skinner: ''The majority of people have never heard of Wofford. It's another opportunity for us to introduce to the world who Wofford College is as a school and as a basketball program.''
RESTED VS TESTED: Wofford hasn't played in 10 days. Arkansas, meanwhile, has played four games in the last week. The Terriers should be well-rested. The Razorbacks have been well-tested, beating Tennessee and Georgia before losing to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament title game. Which route will pay dividends? ''It's a different season, it's a new mindset and we'll find out once we get out on the floor,'' Anderson said.
CLOSE, BUT NOT QUITE: Wofford is winless in three previous trips to the NCAA Tournament, but played well in Jacksonville in 2010. The 13th-seeded Terriers gave Wisconsin all it wanted before losing 53-49 at Veterans Memorial Arena.
EMOTIONAL MOMENT: Young got emotional Wednesday while talking about Wofford guard Eric Garcia, who broke his jaw Dec. 22, played the following week with his jaw wired shut and then missed three games with an ankle injury in mid-January. ''He's a tough dude,'' Young said, pausing to fight back tears. Young added that Garcia and his teammates are ''about the right stuff and I admire them for it.''
FULL-COURT PRESS: Arkansas loves to press and stress, hoping to get opponents to speed up the game and make mistakes. It's worked more often than not this season, but Wofford has a number of talented ball-handlers ready for the challenge. ''This team has been exceptional in taking care of the ball and taking great shots,'' Young said. ''We've been in a lot of different situations through the year, and we think we'll be just fine.''