Florida announced its non-conference schedule for 2013-14 on Friday and it includes more than a few challenges for a potentially deep Gators team before SEC play begins.
Coming off of an Elite 8 loss to Michigan, the Gators will give themselves plenty of early season opportunities to gauge where they stand in the national college basketball landscape. Scheduling the second game of the season at the Kohl Center to face Wisconsin is no joke and Florida will also be tested early with a November clash at home against in-state rival Florida State on the eve of their football game.
Three days after Florida State, head coach Billy Donovan takes the Gators to Storrs to face Connecticut for the first time since the 1994 NCAA Tournament and the following week Kansas will travel to Gainesville to face Florida.
There is also a likely a game against Memphis for December 17th at the Jimmy V Classic in New York, although final details are still being negotiated per the Florida athletics website. A four-game stretch against Florida State, Connecticut, Kansas and potentially Memphis would be among the most challenging stretches any team will schedule for the 2013-14 season.
The Gators’ full non-conference schedule for 2013-14 can be viewed below:
Nov. 8: North Florida (afternoon game)
Nov. 12: at Wisconsin
Nov. 16: Arkansas Little-Rock
Nov. 18: Southern
Nov. 21: Middle Tennessee State
Nov. 25: at Jacksonville
Nov. 29: Florida State
Dec. 2: at Connecticut
Dec. 10: Kansas
Dec. 17: vs. Memphis in Jimmy V Classic at New York (details still in negotiation)
Dec. 21: TBD in Orange Bowl Classic at Sunrise, Fla.
Dec. 29: Savannah State
Jan. 4: Richmond
With the return of Patric Young, Scottie Wilbekin and Will Yeguete, as well as the addition of McDonald’s All-Americans Kasey Hill and Chris Walker, Florida has the talent to compete for a national title and this non-conference slate will prepare them for the SEC and likely SEC favorite Kentucky.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.
LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.
While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.
Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?
Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.
Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.