Florida will be heading back to the New York City area for a third straight year next season.
The Gators will face West Virginia in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in early December, according to a report from FanRag sports. The exact time and date has yet to be determined.
Florida replaced Indiana, which pulled out of the event for undisclosed reasons. Oklahoma and Notre Dame will be the other game in the doubleheader.
Florida last played in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 6, 2016, falling 84-74 to then No. 1 Duke. Last year, the Gators knocked off Cincinnati 66-60 at the Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, N.J.
The Gators last played West Virginia in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge on Jan. 30, 2016 at the O’Connell Center, knocking off the Mountaineers 88-71.
West Virginia is losing two starters, including senior standout guard Jevon Carter, from a team that went 26-11 before falling to eventual national champion Villanova in the Sweet 16 this past season. Florida is returning at least two starters and possibly three if junior guard Jalen Hudson opts to pull his name from the NBA draft and return for his senior season. Rising junior Keith Stone, who had a number of starts throughout the season before taking on the sixth man role late last season, also will be back.
Florida coach Mike White is continuing to load up his non-conference schedule for next season. The Gators are slated to play Butler and Michigan State at home and could play three more games against mid-to-high major opponents at the Battle4Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving weekend. Other teams invited to play in the Battle4Atlantis event include Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Dayton, Butler, Virginia, Stanford and Middle Tennessee.
The formula worked last season. Florida earned a six seed in the NCAA Tournament with 20 regular season wins. Non-conference losses to Loyola-Chicago, Florida State and Clemson weren’t as damaging because all three programs turned out to be stronger than expected. Loyola-Chicago wound up making a run to the Final Four, while FSU made it to the Elite Eight and Clemson reached the Sweet 16.
“We’re going to continue to play a grueling schedule,” White said. “When you evaluate our season I don’t think you look at the number of wins. Heck, we only lost to a few teams that didn’t go to the NCAA Tournament. We want to continue playing a big-time schedule. We led the nation in Top-25 wins, (finished) second in the country in Quadrant 1 wins.”