While the blogtacular summer vacation isn’t quite over (unlike some schools poor kids, I am waiting until after Labor Day “get to work”) the Gopher basketball schedule has been released and it can’t go without comment.
Things kick off as they always seem to, with a barrage of mid to low majors parading through The Barn, putting up a fight for a maybe a half, and then succumbing to talent, travel, the crowd, and everything else that separates the haves and the have-nots from each other. Tubby Smith doesn’t choose to bring any big name schools to The Barn again this year (Virginia is part of the Big Ten – ACC Challenge) although there are a few teams you may have heard of, if you’ve been paying attention.
Nov. 2 Tuesday Northeastern State (Exh) TBD Bigtennetwork.com
8 Monday Winona State (Exh) TBD Bigtennetwork.com
12 Friday Wofford College TBD Bigtennetwork.com
15 Monday Siena College TBD ESPNU
18‐21 Thur.‐Sun. Puerto Rico Tip‐off TBD TBD
18 Thursday Western Kentucky 6:30 p.m. None
19 Friday Hofstra/North Carolina 5/7:30 p.m. None/ESPNU
21 Sunday TBD TBD TBD
24 Wednesday North Dakota State TBD ESPN3
29 Monday Virginia* 6:00 p.m. ESPN2
Dec. 4 Saturday Cornell 7:00 p.m. Big Ten Network
8 Wednesday at St. Joseph’s TBD TBD
11 Saturday Eastern Kentucky Noon Big Ten Network
15 Wednesday Akron 7:30 p.m. Big Ten Network
23 Thursday South Dakota State TBD ESPN3
Winona State is a DII power house, Sienna is something of an NCAA tournament regular. Wofford pushed Wisconsin to the brink in March. Any chance to play UNC is exciting, and Cornell was a national darling, even though everyone who was anyone on that team graduated. St. Joes is the lone true road game, and I am envious of anyone who has a chance to visit The Palestra. Eastern Kentucky is coming off a 20 win season, and Akron had 24 wins. South Dakota State will be a bunch of scrappy, pale farm kids, but they’ll still put up a fight. No, there won’t be a showdown at Williams Arena against a nation powerhouse, but there also won’t be any home games against directional-state. Pick your battles and take baby steps schedule complainers.
The Big Ten season is a whole other ball of wax (the folksiness is just for you South Dakota!). The Big Ten should be one of the toughest conferences in the country again this season, with Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Purdue all expected to be in or around the top 10. And guess who the Gophers play four of their first five games games, and three on the road no less. If the Gophers are going to be special, we will know it right away. If they are merely good or average, we won’t find out about that until later. Don’t give up on them if they start the Big Ten 2-3. Following that tough stretch is a chance to win three in a row, with Iowa bad, DeShawn Simms and Manny Harris mercifully and finally gone from Michigan, and Northwestern always beatable (thank you Kevin Coble for giving up on basketball and Bill Carmody for your gimmicky ungoodness). The tour of Indiana could be tricky, as the Gophers lost both games last year and both Purdue and Indiana should be improved. Ohio State has a heralded freshman class, but Ohio States hasn’t won at The Barn since Greg Oden’s oldness patrolled the paint. The Gophers have found a way to beat Illinois since the streak ended. Iowa and Penn State should be positively awful. The Michigans come to town, and anything less than a split would be heartbreaking (mostly because the Gophers might suffer another nearly season killing blow with another home loss to the Wolverines). Northwestern and Penn State should give the Gophers some confidence heading into the post season.
28 Tuesday Wisconsin 6:00 p.m. ESPN2
31 Friday Michigan State 3:00 p.m. Big Ten Network
Jan. 4 Tuesday Indiana 6:00 p.m. ESPN2
9 Sunday Ohio State 1/3:00 p.m. Big Ten Network
13 Thursday Purdue 6:00 p.m. ESPN2
16 Sunday Iowa 5/6:00 p.m. Big Ten Network
22 Saturday Michigan 6:00 p.m. Big Ten Network
26 Wednesday Northwestern 7:30 p.m. Big Ten Network
29 Saturday Purdue Noon CBS
Feb. 2 Wednesday Indiana 5:30 p.m. Big Ten Network
6 Sunday Ohio State 1:00 p.m. ESPN
10 Thursday Illinois 8:00 p.m. ESPN/2
13 Sunday Iowa 5:00 p.m. Big Ten Network
17 Thursday Penn State 6:00 p.m. ESPN/2
22 Tuesday Michigan State 8:00 p.m. Big Ten Network
26 Saturday Michigan 3:30 p.m. Big Ten Network
Mar. 2/3** Wed./Thurs. Northwestern 7:30/8 p.m. ESPN/ESPN2/BTN
6 Sunday Penn State Noon Big Ten Network
If you are keeping track, and I know you are, every game in the continental US will be televised, and 8 will appear on some form of national television.
We’ll be back in a bit with a look at the upcoming season. The schedule release is not the event…
And if you are looking to kill the last week of Summer, and have some graphic design skills, please share those skills by designing a banner for the top of this site. I’ll be forever grateful, and you’ll get to tell all your friends that it is your creation that adorns an occasionally read blog about an occasionally newsworthy basketball team. What could be better than that?