Posted: 4:42 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, 2013
By Jason Lieser
The Gators expect to have an exceptional roster next season and are building an impressive schedule to test it.
Florida has announced it will host an “historic powerhouse from the Big 12,” which means Kansas is coming to Gainesville as part of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. The other major-conference team coming to the O’Connell Center will be Florida State.
The Gators also owe Wisconsin a visit after the teams played in Gainesville last season.
Beyond that, Florida has accepted an invitation to play in the Jimmy V Classic in New York, where it would likely face another prominent team. Last year’s schools were Texas, Georgetown, North Carolina State and Connecticut.
The Gators still have yet to finalize an opponent for the annual Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise (they played Air Force, Kansas State and Texas A&M the past three years) and still need to add a home non-conference game and one on the road. The remaining home game is likely to be against a small-conference team.
One interesting possibility for Florida’s non-conference schedule would be upstart Florida Gulf Coast, which was unable to land a scrimmage with the Gators last year but met them in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. As of now, FGCU is not on the 2013-14 schedule.
In the SEC, Florida should end up with home-and-home arrangements with Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama and Auburn. The Gators would likely host Georgia, Missouri, LSU and Texas A&M while traveling to face Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.
None of the dates or opponents are officially set. A spokesperson for the conference said the schedule will be released in early August.
The non-conference opponents should be publicized by the end of this month.
One potential obstacle for Florida’s basketball schedule is the plan to do a $50 million renovation to the O’Connell Center in the near future. It is difficult to predict how long it will take to raise the money, and once construction begins, the Gators probably cannot play there in November or December of that year.
The potential issue that creates in scheduling is that if Florida was to enter into a home-and-home arrangement with UCLA, for example, it would not want to visit the Bruins this season and be forced to host them the following year at a neutral site. Preferably, the Gators would play a true road game and a true home game.
Once the construction plan is finalized, Florida could schedule around it by visiting a national powerhouse and hosting the return date of that agreement two years later.