Florida, Georgetown to play on ship
The Carrier Classic on Veterans Day, with the unique calendar date 11-11-11, was a watershed event in college basketball. Now it has become a full-blown trend.
The U.S. Navy has told the two schools that it is fully supportive of the game, much as it was with the Carrier Classic last year.
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"The Navy is excited to work with the city of Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport to bring the Navy-Marine Corps Classic to the First Coast," Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said in a statement. "The Navy is America's Away Team; when we are on the job, we operate forward around the globe and often out of sight of the American people. This is a unique opportunity to showcase the Navy, and to join together to honor our veterans and active duty military."
The Florida-Georgetown matchup is the third game scheduled to be played on a naval ship Nov. 9, college basketball's opening day. All three involve a Big East team.
It is not clear if the Florida-Georgetown or Marquette-Ohio State games will be played on active ships. Television commitments for the three games haven't been made at this point.
"This is a unique way to say thank you to our military while putting Jacksonville on display for countless sports fans tuning in from all over the globe," Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown said in a statement.
Last year's Carrier Classic was a test to see if such a spectacle could work, and the event was deemed a success.
"It is a tremendous honor for our team to be involved with an event that will recognize the contributions of the United States Navy and all of our military," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said in a statement. "It will be an incredible learning experience for all involved with our program."
The atmosphere off Coronado Island, across the water from San Diego, didn't disappoint as top-ranked North Carolina defeated Michigan State in front of President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and thousands of military personnel, in addition to the millions watching on ESPN.
The trio of games this year involve multiple teams that will be in contention for top-25 rankings.
Georgetown, Marquette and Syracuse all have been projected in the upper half of the Big East. Florida will be one of the three favorites in the new 14-team SEC, and Ohio State once again likely will be one of the top three teams in the Big Ten entering the season.
San Diego State is expected to be picked second, behind UNLV, in the Mountain West for the regular-season title.
Florida and Georgetown both also are involved in the SEC-Big East Challenge.
The Hoyas face a loaded November schedule, highlighted by their matchup with the Gators and an SEC-Big East Challenge game at home against upstart Tennessee.
The matchups for that tournament are still to be determined, but the Hoyas will play at least one game against Indiana or UCLA.