Florida State will host Florida in the earliest clash ever between the rivals to open the 2018-19 college basketball season.
The two programs will meet Nov. 6 in Tallahassee for the Fresh From Florida Sunshine Showdown, the first time in 18 years that the annual meeting will be the season opener for each side.
Time and TV details will be announced at a later date.
The NCAA moved up the season’s start date to allow more days for non-conference play, providing local college basketball fans with an early treat. Florida State and Florida each return several key players from teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament in March and will carry big expectations into this season.
Squaring off against one another to open the season has been rare for these two programs.
Florida beat Florida State 85-70 at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee to begin the 2000-01 season, the last time the game served as the season opener for both programs. A year later, the Seminoles opened their season with a 68-47 loss at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville. The Gators had previously faced Temple and Arizona in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Since then, the two programs have typically met in late November or December.
“Anytime Florida State plays Florida it’s a big game,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said in a news release. “This is a game our players and our fans look forward to each year. To schedule our game against the Gators as the season opener for both teams makes it even more special because it’s the first time fans of both teams will have the chance to see their team play.”
Hamilton’s squad, which lost to Michigan in the Elite Eight last season, has recently had the upper hand against Florida. The Seminoles have won a program-record four straight meetings dating back to 2014, including an 83-66 victory in their most recent matchup.
Florida will try to end that streak and continue another. The Gators have won 27 straight season openers dating back to a loss to USF in 1990.
The opening test against Florida State is part of a difficult early slate for Florida. Coach Mike White’s team, which lost to Texas Tech in the Round of 32 last season, will also compete in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament and the Jimmy V Classic.