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Win would help UF find home in Dome

Whether the ThunderDome is a winner could depend on whether Florida is a winner against Kentucky tonight.

The chances of Florida ending up in the ThunderDome's first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games March 18 and 20 will be greater if the Gators are a high seed. A victory against the No.

7 Wildcats tonight might get UF a No.

3 regional seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

And that might mean a reserved place in St. Petersburg.

"It's not a perfect correlation, but I would think that makes the most sense," Florida coach Lon Kruger said. "The higher we're seeded, I think the percentage would increase for going to St. Pete. And it certainly would be nice for us to stay close to Gainesville."

Bill Hancock, the NCAA's director of basketball championships, said the NCAA selection committee tries to keep the highest-seeded teams as close to home as possible. Florida State was a No.

3 seed last year and went to Orlando.

Still, the odds are not in the ThunderDome's favor. It is one of eight sub-regional sites, and Top 10 teams such as North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky would like a Southeast location.

_ JOHN ROMANO

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