Florida coach Billy Donovan said on his twitter page he expects to finish his team’s non-conference schedule by the end of July. He also said that fans will be “excited” about the schedule.
Perhaps Donovan learned an important lesson last season. Florida failed to make the NCAA Tournament despite having as many or less losses than 11 of the 34 teams that earned at large berths on Selection Sunday. The big reason? Florida scheduled four teams last season with RPIs of 297 or lower (FGCU, Longwood, Florida A&M and UM-Kansas City.) Those wins probably hurt the Gators more than they helped them.
That’s why I found it interesting earlier this week when new Kentucky coach John Calipari talked about completing his non-conference schedule. Calipari said he evaluates the numbers and will not schedule teams with RPIs under 250. Calpari also is a big fan of neutral court games and said he’s explored potential Kentucky matchups against Ohio State in Louisville, Kansas in St. Louis (at the Edward Jones Dome) and Indiana at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Here’s what we know so far about Florida’s non-conference schedule. The Gators will face Florida State and Xavier at home. On the road, Florida will play at Rutgers (senior forward Dan Werner’s homecoming) and at North Carolina State. And on Dec. 10, Florida has what’s classified as a home-neutral game in Tampa against Syracuse in the SEC-Big East Challenge.
After chairing the NCAA Tournament selection committee last season, SEC commissioner Mike Slive made it clear that member schools needed to schedule up in order to earn tourney berths.
We’ll find out by the end of the month if Donovan heeded Slive’s advice.