Florida added another major conference opponent to an already challenging 2018-19 non conference schedule Monday.
The Gators will host Butler in the first matchup of a home-and-home series. Florida will make the return trip to historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for the 2019-20 campaign.
Butler finished the 2017-18 season 21-14 under first-year coach LaVall Jordan, reaching the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament before falling 76-73 to Purdue. Florida finished the 2017-18 season 21-13, losing to Texas Tech in the Round of 32.
“We have a lot of respect for Butler, and we’re excited about this series,” Florida coach Mike White said of the Big East school. “Our goal is always to play a really tough non-conference schedule, not only to prepare our team for the SEC schedule, but also because we have great fans who deserve to see us play a high-level schedule.”
The Gators also will host Michigan State next season in the return of a home-of-home series and travel to the Bahamas for the Battle for Atlantis tournament with the possibility of facing three of the following seven teams: Butler, Dayton, Middle Tennessee, Oklahoma, Stanford, Virginia and/or Wisconsin.
Butler projects to return a talented squad, led by guard Kamar Baldwin, who averaged 15.7 points per game as a sophomore this past season. Starting forward Sean McDernott and starting guard Aaron Thompson also are expected to come back, along with rising senior center Nate Fowler and rising senior guard Paul Jorgensen.
Florida is 2-1 all-time against Butler, with all three meetings coming in the NCAA Tournament. The last time the two schools met, Butler knocked off Florida 74-71 in overtime in the 2011 Elite Eight. Florida beat Butler 65-57 in the 2007 Sweet 16 and downed Butler 69-68 in overtime in the first round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament on a last-second Mike Miller shot.