The 3rd Annual Gavitt Games matchups were announced today and it has the University of Minnesota making the trip to face the Friars on November 13th. The news of the matchups were broken earlier today by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. For those who don’t know the Gavitt Games have the Big Ten and Big East conferences square off for a slate of early season nonconference games. While there are several intriguing matchups this year including Xavier at Wisconsin and Butler at Maryland, the Golden Gophers going to the Dunk may be the most intriguing of all. The Golden Gophers are coming of the greatest turnaround of last year’s college basketball season. The year prior Minnesota went 8-23 and Coach Richard Pitino seemed to be on the hot seat. The Golden Gophers ended up finishing last season 24-10, a 4th place finish in the Big Ten and earned a 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota was a trendy 12 vs. 5 upset pick and they did ultimately fall to Middle Tennessee State in the first round.
The Golden Gophers are looking to carry over the momentum to next season and figuring they return five of their top six scorers they should be a good team next season. Leading scorer Nate Mason will return for his senior season and will be accompanied by talented freshman from a year ago, Amir Coffey. The Gophers also return their leading rebounder, Jordan Murphy, and the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in Reggie Lynch. Pitino also brings aboard the 65th ranked player in ESPN 100 with Bronx native Isaiah Washington. I see the Golden Gophers being one of the better teams from the Big Ten next year and it will be a great early season test for both teams. Who ever comes away with the win will get a tournament resume boost early in the season. Once the Friars fill out their entire nonconference schedule I will be providing a preview of the slate.