Florida basketball secures big nonconference games in Michigan State, Butler

By Adam Silverstein
March 26, 2018
Florida basketball secures big nonconference games in Michigan State, Butler

Image Credit: ESPN Images

A few years ago, when the Southeastern Conference requested that its men’s basketball programs begin scheduling tougher competition in league play to raise its overall profile, the Florida Gators jumped at the opportunity. Ever since, the Gators’ nonconference slates have been exceptionally robust, and it looks like the 2018-19 season will be no exception.

Florida announced Monday that it has agreed to a home-and-home series with the Butler Bulldogs. It will kick off with a home game for UF in Gainesville, Florida, next season before it hits the road to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2019-20.

“We have a lot of respect for Butler, and we’re excited about this series,” head coach Mike White said in a release. “Our goal is always to play a really tough nonconference 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 are 2-1 all-time against the Bulldogs, but the teams have never played outside of the NCAA Tournament. Butler defeated Florida in the 2011 Elite Eight to partially avenge Mike Miller’s incredible buzzer-beater in 2000 and Florida’s Sweet 16 win on the way to its second straight national championship in 2007.

Florida will also host the Michigan State Spartans next season in a return game of a home-and-home series that has been delayed on multiple occasions. UF previously faced MSU in East Lansing, Michigan, as part of the 2015-16 nonconference slate.

There are no other nonconference games announced for 2018-19 at this time, though one should expect Florida to once again compete in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic and SEC-Big 12 Challenge at a minimum.

UF was supposed to compete in a four-team barnstorming event beginning on Dec. 14, 2018. The event was to feature Michigan State, North Carolina and Texas and be hosted in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. It has not been addressed in years after initially being reported, and with the MSU game being contested in Gainesville, it looks to potentially be over.

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