Florida will begin play in the prestigious PK 80 Invitational Tournament in Portland, Ore., on Thanksgiving Night against a rebuilding Pac 12 program.
But the competition will get stiffer throughout the weekend if the Gators advance in the winner’s bracket.
The Gators will open play in the tournament celebrating Nike Founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday on Nov. 23 against Stanford. The game will be played in the evening session (time TBD) at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. All games will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks.
Stanford returns three starters from a team that went 14-17 last season under second-year coach Jerod Haase. Florida coach Mike White coached against Haase when the two were leading the top programs at the time in Conference USA. White was at Louisiana Tech from 2011-15, while Haase was at UAB from 2012-16.
Florida is in the eight-team motion bracket with Duke, Texas, Portland State, Gonzaga, Ohio State and Butler. The Gators are guaranteed three games in the tournament and will face either Gonzaga or Ohio State on Friday, Nov. 24. The full bracket can be seen here.
The Gators have high aspirations going into the 2017-18 season after a breakthrough second season under White. Florida went 27-9 and reached the Elite Eight for the ninth time in program history. The tournament should provide a good early barometer and potential RPI boost for UF’s resume.
Other potential storylines from the tournament include:
— A possible rematch with last season’s national runner up, Gonzaga, which beat the Gators 77-72 in last November’s AdvoCare Tournament at Disney’s Wide World of Sports of Complex.
— A possible rematch with Duke in Sunday’s final game of the tournament. Duke knocked off Florida 84-74 last season at the Jimmy V Classic in New York City.
— A potential Sunday matchup with Texas, coached by former UF assistant Shaka Smart. The Longhorns are coming off a disappointing 11-22 season but boast one on the nation’s top incoming freshman classes, led by five-star, 7-footer Mohamed Bamba.