By Myron Medcalf
What’s up, everybody?
Gophers spokesman Matt Slieter confirmed Tuesday that the Gophers will only face Wisconsin and Illinois once this season. The Badgers will travel to Williams Arena and Minnesota will go to Champaign, Ill., for the lone meeting in both matchups.
Minnesota faced both schools two times last season, ending significant losing streaks against Illinois and the Badgers. Although the opportunity to take on Iowa and Indiana twice could boost Minnesota’s conference win total, the team would have a better strength of schedule (potentially) with two matchups against tougher Big Ten teams. Plus, if there’s another tight race for the Big Dance among Big Ten squads, those single matchups against the Badgers and Illinois may prove to be significant for a Gophers team with a good chance to earn a solid seed in next season’s NCAA tournament.
-Lawrence Westbrook on his 35-pound weight loss: “[I] played last season at about 220. When I got home, I started working out and I lost 35 pounds. … I’m ready to play.” That means he’s at about 185 pounds right now. Wow, especially for a guy that’s so stocky.
-The 76 Classic released its bracket/schedule Tuesday. The Gophers will take on Butler at 7:30 p.m. (CST) Nov. 26 on ESPN2. If they get past Butler, they’ll face the winner of the UCLA-Portland game. What an opportunity for the Gophers to test themselves on a national stage during the nonconference season.
-Slieter said the Gophers will release their complete schedule Monday. No surprises are anticipated. The 76 Classic and the ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup against Miami have already been announced. They’ll face the usual suspects in Big Ten play. I’m sure Tubby Smith hopes that his team won’t have to play five road games in a month again.