LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 08: Michael Lyons #14 of the Air Force Falcons drives against Cameron Bairstow #41 of the New Mexico Lobos during a quarterfinal game of the Conoco Mountain West Conference Basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center March 8, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Florida's non-conference basketball schedule is already shaping up as one of the toughest the Gators have ever played, and certainly reflective of Billy Donovan's new, more aggressive scheduling philosophy. To that end, the Gators are getting an interesting final opponent in 2012 Orange Bowl Classic foe Air Force.
The Orange Bowl Classic announced the match-up on Tuesday (PDF), but it's apparently been overlooked. Perhaps Air Force, just 13-16 in 2010-11, flew too far under the radar in its first season under Dave Pilipovich?
Pilipovich told The (Colorado Springs) Gazette that the game would be a good early-season test for his team:
"It gives our program a chance to play against an SEC team, a team that’s been to the NCAA Tournament multiple times and won a couple national titles," Pilipovich said. "It gives you a chance to play against the best, against teams with outstanding resources and great coaching staffs and elite players."
The game may be a bit less challenging for the Gators: Air Force was horrific on the glass in 2011-12 (the Falcons got just 20.7 percent of possible rebounds, dead last in Division I) and has just one player over 6'8" on its roster, Taylor Broekhuis. Patric Young and Erik Murphy might have a field day up front in Sunrise.
A big hat-tip to Mountain West Connection.