Florida In Reported Preseason NIT Field

One element of Todd Golden’s coaching that we didn’t have a chance to see in year one was his scheduling strategy. Nowadays in college basketball schedules are made further in advance than ever and when Golden was hired last spring the Gators’ entire non-conference schedule was essentially set. In fact, the only game actually scheduled by Golden was the neutral site contest with Ohio, something to round out a schedule that already was loaded with high-major opponents due to the PK-85.


Scheduling is more important than ever in college basketball as the selection and seeding process for the NCAA Tournament is more precise than ever. For that reason, Florida’s schedule for the 2023-24 season will be an opportunity to really see what Golden’s strategy is as he looks to both prepare the Gators for SEC play and maximize the non-conference resume. 


Florida’s schedule took some more shape on Thursday as Rocco Miller reported the field for the Preseason NIT, a long standing multi team event that is back after taking a break in the 2022-23 season. According to Miller, the event which takes place in Brooklyn will consist of Florida, Baylor, Pittsburgh, and Oregon State.



Going back to the previous coaching staff, the Gators have been making an effort to play each year in New York or the surrounding area and it looks like the Preseason NIT at the Barclays Center will fill that spot this season.


Baylor has been one of the most dominant programs in college basketball over the last decade and will likely enter the Preseason NIT as the favorite to win, though it’s worth noting that the Gators’ talent is considered better by multiple analytics tools at this point in the transfer portal cycle. Even if on paper the Gators might look a bit more talented, the program momentum of Baylor being a top program in college basketball over the last decade makes them the marquee team in this field,


Pittsburgh started the 2022-23 season with low expectations and a head coach on the hot seat but they ended up being one of the biggest stories in the ACC having a solid season that ended with a run to the Sweet Sixteen. While their analytical numbers were never particularly strong they always played with a high level of physicality and toughness that allowed them to grit out games and that lunch pail attitude allowed them to go on a quality NCAA Tournament run. The Panthers lost some talent to graduation but bring in Dior Johnson who was once considered to be a top 10 prospect in the 2023 class, though he now sits at 35th. 


Oregon State has been near the basement of the Pac 12 for years now and while they were able to bring back some of their talent from last year who were productive they will once again be projected to be one of the worst high major teams in the country. Florida actually played Oregon State this past year in the PK-85 where the Gators came away with an 81-68 win. 


Matchups haven’t been set yet, but a logical prediction would be that the Gators will see Pittsburgh in their opening game. While they don’t technically seed out these tournaments according to who is the projected best team, that is usually the case and in this particular field Baylor will be the presumed best program. On the bottom end of things, there will be no debate that Oregon State is the worst team–plus, with the Gators playing Oregon State last season both programs might be looking for a new matchup. 


Florida would love to get a matchup with Baylor, as a big-time opponent like that on a neutral court is exactly the recipe you need for a marquee resume win. 


Eric Fawcett
Eric is a basketball coach and writer from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His work has been found at NBA international properties, ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Lindy's and others. He loves zone defenses, the extra pass, and a 30 second shot clock. Growing up in Canada, an American channel showing SEC basketball games was his first exposure to Gator hoops, and he has been hooked ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at @ericfawcett_.