Gators enter season unranked


No surprise. Coming off a 16-17 season, its worst since 1997-98, Florida enters the 2015-16 unranked in the AP men’s college basketball poll in Mike White’s first season as UF coach.

It’s the first time that Florida started the season unranked since 2009-10, after a pair of NIT seasons. In that year, Florida reached the NCAA Tournament as a 10-seed before falling to BYU 99-92 in double-overtime in the opening round.

The preseason AP Top 25 includes three SEC teams — Kentucky (2), Vanderbilt (18) and LSU (21). The Wildcats received 10 first-place votes despite losing all five starters from a team that finished 38-1 and reached the Final Four last season.

Florida will face at least one preseason Top 25 team on its non-conference schedule and possibly two. The Gators will play at No. 13 Michigan State on Dec. 12. In addition, Florida could play No. 23 Purdue on Nov. 22 at the Hall of Fame Classic in Uncasville, Conn., if both teams advance into the winner’s bracket (or fall into the loser’s bracket). Florida begins the tournament on Nov. 21 against St. Joseph’s, while Purdue takes on Old Dominion.

The Gators say they don’t mind going into the season under the radar after being picked to finish sixth in the SEC this season.

Preseason No. 1 North Carolina will face Temple and a doubleheader before UF’s season opener vs. Navy (Nov. 13) at the Veterans Classic in Annapolis, Md.

Other notes:

— Florida held its closed scrimmage against UCF over the weekend. No word on specific stats, but according to varied reports and sources, senior forward Dorian Finney-Smith, junior point guard Kasey Hill and sophomore center Jon Egbunu all played well. Sophomore point guard Chris Chiozza missed the scrimmage with an ankle injury but resumed practice on Monday and should be available for Thursday’s official preseason game at the O’Connell Center against Palm Beach Atlantic.