As UConn prepares for a watered-down AAC schedule, the Huskies continue to beef up their non-conference slate. On Saturday morning, the Palm Beach Post reported that Florida will visit Connecticut on Dec. 2.
With a schedule that includes SMU, Central Florida and Houston, it was necessary for UConn to add some punch in the non-league.
Credit Warde Manuel, Jim Calhoun (whose responsibility includes scheduling) and Kevin Ollie. Job well done so far. Here are the marquee non-conference opponents in 2013-14:
*Florida – The Gators have been to the past three Elite Eights, a remarkable feat. Outside of Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and Kansas, I’m not sure there’s a better powerhouse to schedule. It’s unknown whether the Gators will visit the XL Center or Gampel. UConn will head to Gainesville in 2014 or 2015, according to the Palm Beat Post report.
*Maryland — Despite the losses of center Alex Len (NBA) and point guard Pe’Shon Howard (transfer), the Terps are still formidable. Dez Wells is one of the ACC’s top returnees, and Shabazz Napier is an early candidate for AAC preseason player of the year. There will be plenty of star power present when Maryland and UConn clash in the Nov. 8 season opener at the Barclays Center.
*2K Sports Classic — The field includes Boston College, Washington and Indiana, the other “host schools” in the 2013 bracket. The semifinals and championship game will be played at Madison Square Garden in late November.
*Harvard — For what it’s worth, Harvard is ranked higher than UConn in the pre-preseason top 25 polls. After winning its first NCAA tournament game in school history, a nucleus of Wesley Saunders, Siyani Chambers and Laurent Rivard should give the Crimson a shot at another March victory. Also, its two top players — Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey — return from a season-long academic suspension.
A matchup with Stanford is rumored to be in the works, too. Next season, the 10 AAC teams play each other twice to form an 18-game league schedule. In that system, UConn gets four games against Louisville and Memphis to help offset the lackluster home-and-home matchups with Rutgers, South Florida and Houston.