Billy Donovan hasn’t shied away from scheduling a tough out of conference schedule in the past – Florida had Georgetown, Wisconsin, Marquette, Arizona and Kansas State on the schedule last season – and he will continue doing so in the future.
Announced back in May, ESPN’s Andy Katz confirmed today that Florida and UCONN have agreed to a home-and-home series that will start this season. Florida will travel to play the Huskies on December 2 of this season and host UCONN sometime in 2014-15.
When he met with the media prior to last season, Donovan said that the Gators out of conference schedule was the most difficult he had ever scheduled but that playing those games helps prepare the team for the NCAA tournament.
“This is as challenging a non-conference schedule as we’ve had during my tenure at Florida,” Donovan said. “We’ve made deep runs in the NCAA Tournament each of the last two years and a schedule like this helps expose us to a number of different styles of play that we could see later in the season.”
This is where college basketball differs from college football. Scheduling these types of tough games in basketball won’t negatively affect a team if they lose, whereas, a single loss in a football season could keep a team out of the National Championship picture.
The addition of the home-and-home with UCONN adds on to three other tough games next season. Florida will host Kansas on December 10, play Memphis in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City and will travel to Wisconsin to complete a home-and-home series with the Badgers. Florida will also play in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic against an out of conference opponent that is still to be determined. Florida will also host Florida State in their annual rivalry game with the Noles coming to Gainesville on November 29, one day before the football team hosts Florida State in the Swamp.
The SEC should be a two horse race next year between Florida and Kentucky. The Wildcats pulled in a very impressive recruiting class and while they will be young, should have as much talent as any team in the country.
The tough slate of road games will prepare Florida for not only Kentucky but also the NCAA Tournament. Playing these road games gives the Gators a look at different styles as well as gives his team a chance to face some adversity before entering into tournament play.
Expect the Gators to add one more strong out of conference opponent this offseason and head into the 2013-14 season with one of the most difficult schedules in the country.
Just like Donovan likes it.