UF opener set

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Though the Gazelle Group has yet to officially release the pairings, Florida’s opening weekend of games in the O’Reilly Classic are now set.

According to sources familiar with the tournament, UF will open its season Nov. 14 at the O’Connell Center against Toledo. The Gators will then face Bradley on Nov. 16.

Toledo finished last season 11-19, going 8-9 in the Mid-American conference. The Rockets have been in the news for more notorious reasons of late. Over the summer, former Toledo guard Sammy Villegas was charged with fixing games in a point-shaving scheme during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

Bradley finished last season 21-17, reaching the finals of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational Postseason tournament last season. The Braves are perennial contenders in the deep and often-underrated Missouri Valley Conference, Bradley reached the Sweet 16 in 2006, the season Florida won the first of its two back-to-back national titles.

In the second round of the O’Reilly Classic, Florida will face Syracuse on Nov. 24 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. The Gators then will face either Kansas or Washington in the second game. Winners of the two games will move on to the finals, while the losers will face each other in a consolation game.

In other UF related news, former walk-on Shane Payne has landed at Division III Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. Payne confirmed the move in an e-mail to Sun correspondent Ray FitzGerald.

“I really like the coach and they’ve got a really good player on the team,” Payne said in the e-mail.

Here’s a link to the Hampden-Sydney athletic Web site confirming Payne’s spot on the roster: http://www.hsc.edu/athletics/basketball/2008_09/roster.html