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UVa men’s basketball team will face Florida in early season clash at Mohegan Sun
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UVa men’s basketball team will face Florida in early season clash at Mohegan Sun

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Virginia guard Kihei Clark celebrates a basket during a game against Boston College at John Paul Jones Arena.

It’s about that time, Virginia basketball fans.

Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers will take part in their elongated national title defense beginning on Nov. 25. On Wednesday, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Gazelle Group announced a season-opening event that will occur at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut, and the Cavaliers are one of the four teams included.

It appears that Virginia will face either Maine or Saint Peter’s on the first day of the season, Nov. 25. The Wahoos will then face Florida on Nov. 27.

UVa last faced Florida in 2017, when the Cavaliers fell to the Gators 65-39 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This year’s game will mark the first regular season meeting between the two teams.

Virginia played Maine a season ago, winning 46-26 at John Paul Jones Arena. The teams combined to make just 25 shots from the floor.

Mohegan Sun Arena will host multiple games this upcoming season, and the space is being dubbed “Bubbleville.” Given the spread of COVID-19, the host area is expected to provide a “controlled environment with teams and event staff adhering to tribal, government, and NCAA health and safety protocols and testing requirements,” according to a press release.

UVa won the Air Force Reserve Tip-Off Championship at Mohegan Sun last season. The Cavaliers beat UMass and Arizona State in Connecticut last fall to win the event.

The college basketball season will look unlike anything we’ve seen before, likely with limited crowds and social distancing guidelines for event staff and media. Players and coaches will frequently be tested for COVID-19.

Expect a strange year.

On the plus side for UVa fans, they’ll have a chance to watch the Cavaliers compete against what’s expected to be a competitive Florida team. There’s potential for the early season game to be a top-25 matchup.

Virginia enters the season with high expectations. Bennett’s group returns Kihei Clark and Jay Huff from last season’s 23-win team. Sam Hauser joins the fold after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, and Tomas Woldetensae and Casey Morsell add important depth to the backcourt.

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