The University finally announced its 2010-2011 non-conference schedule, showing a movement towards bringing higher-quality opponents to the Barn, something it has been averse to in past years.
Now, it’s not like the team has scheduled games with anybody like Kansas or Connecticut, but the overall quality (read: RPI) of teams has definitely improved from last year, with several teams coming to town who appeared in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The first official game against Wofford (RPI: 69) has a hometown connection, with several Minnesota natives playing on the team. Cameron Rundles and Jamar Diggs from DeLaSalle and Noah Dahlman from Braham are all major contributors and led the Terriers to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance last year.
The Gophers also scheduled Siena (RPI: 31) who went 27-6 last year and made the tournament as a #13 seed, Cornell (RPI: 46), who busted brackets last year on their way to the Sweet Sixteen and Akron (RPI: 89) who went 23-10 and just missed an invite to the tournament, losing the MAC championship in overtime.
Minnesota is also playing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament in November. While their first game is against Western Kentucky, they have the chance at facing North Carolina in the second round of the tournament as well as the possibility of facing West Virginia or Vanderbilt further down the bracket.
While there isn’t any matchup that jumps off the schedule like last year’s Butler matchup, there are several games against solid teams that present opportunities to build the resume for tournament consideration further down the road. Wins against teams like Siena and Cornell go a long ways toward strengthening a team’s RPI and, while they may not make headlines with victories over the Saints or Big Red, those wins look very good on paper. We all saw the dividends that the Butler win paid last year and how much more wins over solid, yet unspectacular opponents like Texas A&M and Miami would have been.
Below is the 2010-2011 non-conference schedule. All games are at home with the exception of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off games and a game at St. Joseph’s to finish up a home-and-home agreement.
2nd – Northeastern State (Exhibition)
8th – Winona State (Exhibition)
12th – Wofford College
15th – Siena College
18th – Western Kentucky 6:30 p.m. (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
19th – Hofstra/North Carolina 5/7:30 p.m. (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
21st – Team TBD (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
24th – North Dakota State
29th – Virginia (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)
4th – Cornell
8th – at St. Joseph’s
11th – Eastern Kentucky
15th – Akron