GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The vow from several years ago to schedule more competitively on the basketball front went next level this season when the Gators -- specifically, Executive Associate AD Mike Hill in conjunction with Coach Billy Donovan -- pieced together the most competitive slate in program history.
ESPN rated Florida’s 2012-13 schedule the toughest in the Southeastern Conference and fifth-toughest in the nation.
But the Gators lost one of those games -- and its accompanying RPI points -- Friday night when the Navy/Marine Corps Classic was cancelled at halftime due to condensation on the floor. UF was winning 27-23 at the time, with Donovan and his staff pleased with how the game was going and their players competing.
With both the UF-Georgetown game on the USS Bataan at Mayport, Fla., and the Ohio State-Marquette game on the USS Yorktown at Charleston, S.C., both nixed due to conditions, ESPN senior basketball writer Andy Katz pinned down NCAA selection committee chair Mike Bobinski on the impact the missing games could have next March.
“There’s no practical way to factor in good intentions and we can’t evaluate games that weren’t played/completed,” Bobinski said. “The reality is that in this case all involved teams will have numerous opportunities as the season progresses to demonstrate their relative strength.”
That statement certainly applies to the Gators.
Immediately, in fact.
UF faces No. 23 Wisconsin (1-0) Wednesday night on ESPNU, followed by a date against Middle Tennessee State (1-0) at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Sunday. If the latter game doesn’t interest you, consider the Blue Raiders went 27-7 last season (beating UCLA, Ole Miss and Tennessee along the way) en route to the NIT, and Friday night pummeled Alabama State by 36, a comparable margin to the 84-35 the Gators enjoyed Sunday against the outmanned Hornets at the O’Connell Center.
In the weeks to come, UF plays UCF and Marquette at home, Florida State and Arizona on the road, and Kansas State on a so-called “neutral” site in Kansas City.
Still one of the toughest schedules in the country ... even without the Hoyas.