Gators release non-conference hoops schedule
Published on Friday, 8/1/14, at 7:20 p.m. Eastern.
By Brian Edwards
Florida released its non-conference schedule for the 2014-2015 campaign Thursday and, as usual, it will offer the Gators challenges galore. The non-conference slate is capped at home on Jan. 3 against UConn, which handed UF its last two defeats last season.
The Huskies beat the Gators at the buzzer in Storrs and then ended Florida’s dream season at the Final Four in Arlington.
Billy Donovan’s team will open the season against a tough William & Mary squad that nearly made the NCAA Tournament last year and returns four of its starters. That Nov. 12 opener will be followed by a Nov. 15 showdown vs. Miami at The O-Dome.
UF will spend Thanksgiving in the Bahamas at the Battle 4 Atlantis. The eight-team field consists of UF, North Carolina, UCLA, Wisconsin, Georgetown, Butler, Oklahoma and UAB.
The Gators have significant history will all of those teams except for UAB and Oklahoma, but the Sooners are coached by Lon Kruger, who took UF to its first Final Four in 1994. Florida beat UNC at the 2000 Final Four and has sent UCLA packing from the Big Dance four times since 2006.
Florida lost at Wisconsin last season, beat Georgetown in the 2006 Sweet 16 and has gone 2-1 in three memorable NCAA Tourney matchups against Butler.
On Dec. 20, the Gators will make their annual trip down to Sunrise (home of the NHL’s Florida Panthers) to face Wake Forest. Then 10 days later, they’ll take on the Seminoles in Tallahassee.
Other non-conference home games include ULM (11/21), Yale (12/8), Texas Southern (12/12) and Jacksonville (12/14).
In other Florida hoops news, funding is nearly complete for a $45-50 million renovation of the O-Dome that will take place after this upcoming season. The project won’t be complete until January of 2016, meaning the Gators will have to play all of their non-conference home games outside of Gainesville next year. I think it’ll actually be a pretty neat deal with UF spreading out the games in Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando and South Florida, where UF alums are scattered across the state.