Florida's 2015 Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament participation has long been known, and its opponent in the Connecticut-based portion of the competition, Saint Joseph's, was revealed two weeks ago.
Now we know the Gators' first two opponents, too, with the Tuesday release of the event's schedule (PDF): Florida will host North Carolina A&T and Vermont in two Tip-Off games.
Florida will see the Aggies on November 16 in its home opener, per GatorZone, and the Catamounts on November 25. Florida will meet Saint Joseph's in Naismith Bracket action at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut on November 21, and then play either Old Dominion or Purdue in a second game at the Sun on November 22.
Florida's game against Vermont is the only Hall of Fame Tip-Off game at a campus site to take place after the main segment of the event, but it's likely necessitated by Florida's other commitments. The Gators will open their 2015-16 schedule at Navy in the 2015 Veterans Classic on November 13, as was announced Monday, beginning a season with a true road game for the first time since 2000 — and that probably precluded Florida from hosting a game on November 13 or 15, when four games will be played at campus sites.
Drawing North Carolina A&T is sort of bad luck for the Gators, who could have put together a quartet of Hall of Fame Tip-Off opponents (Buffalo, Purdue, Saint Joseph's, and Vermont) likely to have fine RPIs and chances at the NCAA Tournament next year. The Aggies, on the other hand, ranked 340th in both RPI and the KenPom ratings in 2014-15, and are likely to provide no benefit to Florida's RPI at best — but, well, two teams had to play them. (Not drawing the Aggies, who will also visit Purdue, is a rare win for Old Dominion, the closest host school to North Carolina A&T, over power-conference foes.)
With this announcement, we likely know the first five games of Florida's schedule, though we obviously don't know the opponent for the second game in Connecticut yet; I can't imagine Florida squeezing a game in between all of its announced dates through November 25. We also know the date for one other game — Florida will play at Miami on December 8 — and know that the Gators will meet Florida State in Gainesville as part of the teams' annual rivalry and a Big 12 team at a site to be determined as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge in a rare late-January non-conference game.
Florida's schedule releases are obviously not the biggest news in the Gators basketball world this week, of course — but the Gators will, I can confirm, compete in men's basketball in 2015-16 with or without Billy Donovan prowling the sidelines.