Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley has never been afraid of creating tough schedules for his teams. So it should come as no surprise that he’s seemingly added one of college basketball’s leviathans to a schedule in the not so distant future.
Speaking in an interview with WRUF 850 AM Gainesville, Foley expressed his excitement at the prospect of facing the Duke Blue Devils on the hardwood. His new coach, Mike White, is the son of Duke AD Kevin White, and Foley sees that as all the more reason to play them. But Foley said that the elder White defers to coach Mike Krzyzewski on that, and Coach K apparently isn’t as interested in as the Florida camp is. Foley said on the air that he would love to have a home and home series with Duke, and while that probably won’t happen anytime soon, it sounds like the Gators will at least get one shot at the Blue Devils.
“In fact, I think we’re playing Duke in New York either next year or the year after,” Foley said. “So that’s something that will be very special to our program.”
Foley didn’t specify where, exactly, the game would be played in New York. The two main options that come to mind are the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Madison Square Garden, the capital of hoops, where Florida took down Memphis two years ago. But regardless of which venue it’s in, it makes a lot of sense that it would happen next year. Remember, Florida won’t have a home for the non conference portion of its schedule due to renovations in the O’Dome, so they’ll be road warriors for the first several weeks of the season. And since it’s never fun to play some ten-fifteen consecutive road games, it makes even more sense to schedule as many neutral site games as possible.
Florida’s 2016/17 schedule is already loaded, though, so excited as I may be to watch the Gators against Duke, I’d be somewhat leery of the matchup if it happened next year out of fear that their record might take a beating. Florida already has a road trip to FSU, a return game against Michigan State (presumably in the O’Dome once construction is finished), a road trip to a Big 12 team’s house (likely West Virginia) for the Big 12/SEC Challenge, and a game in the annual Orange Bowl Classic, which has seen Florida face power five conference schools in each of the last two years, on the docket for next season. And in addition to all that, the Gators are set to participate in the AdvoCare Invitational Tournament in Orlando next Thanksgiving weekend, in a loaded eight team field that also includes Iowa State, Stanford, Miami, Gonzaga, Seton Hall, Quinnipiac and Indiana State.
That’s not to say this matchup is set in stone to begin with, though Foley did sound quite certain when he was talking. Hopefully this matchup does come to pass, and hopefully the Gators will be take the next step toward becoming a national power again next year- and pass this and all other tests with flying colors.