Florida return game with Michigan State pushed to 2018-19 season

By Adam Silverstein
May 15, 2017
Florida return game with Michigan State pushed to 2018-19 season

Image Credit: ESPN Images

Two years ago, the Florida Gators and Michigan State Spartans were near an agreement on a home-and-home basketball series that would have culminated in the 2016-17 campaign. Now that series, which was agreed upon in July 2015, will not be completed until the 2018-19 season.

The Gators and Spartans originally agreed to push the return game — a home contest for UF in Gainesville, Florida — to 2017-18 due to construction at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. No. 1 Michigan State went on to beat Florida 58-52 on Dec. 12, 2015, and the Gators were poised for some revenge this winter. That is no longer the case.

According to Florida, an early start to Big Ten league play next season will necessitate moving the game once again. The Gators will now host the Spartans as part of their 2018-19 nonconference slate, likely prior to the new year.

An interesting twist is that UF was actually supposed to play MSU already that year as part of a four-team barnstorming event that was set to take place over an eight-day period in December 2018 with games in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. North Carolina and Texas were the other two teams participating in that event. That event was canceled and restructured in 2016 with Florida being replaced by UCLA. Instead of a tour, the four teams will play a tournament in October or November 2018 in Las Vegas.

As part of the 2017-18 season, the Gators will participate in the Phil Knight Invitational, also known as “PK80” as it will be honoring the Nike co-founder. Florida joins Arkansas, Butler, Connecticut, Duke, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Portland, Portland State, Stanford and Texans in the 16-team field, which will feature two eight-team brackets and a pair of champions. UF could play MSU in that event as well depending where the programs are placed.

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