Instead of facing former coach Dan Monson in the first round of the 76 classic, the Gophers get their toughest non-conference opponent of the season, so far at least. The Butler Bulldogs, one of the top mid-major programs in the country, finished last season with a 26-6 record including a win over Xavier and a loss to LSU in the NCAA Tournament. Last season was something of a rebuilding year, but according to Andy Katz at least, they should be one of the top teams in the country.
Penn State saw first hand a year ago how a bad draw and a bad game in an early season tournament can ruin a team’s post season plans. Luckily for the Gophers, that doesn’t seem likely with a tough first round draw.