Richard Pitino asked Twitter the following on Friday:
We r working on starting a home and home at the barn next season. Any suggestions on who to reach out to gopher fans?— Richard Pitino (@MNCoachPitino) March 11, 2016
Given the fact that it's been a while since we've been able to talk about anything fun related to Minnesota Basketball, this seemed like a timely query. Who should Minnesota sign for a home and home?
There are several ways to approach the question. The first is to be super rational about it and think about what team would be a good matchup for the teams we'll likely see in Minnesota over the next two seasons. Both in terms of matchup for talent/system and for ability to be a quality win if Minnesota were to be on the bubble. Personally, I think that's a dumb way to answer this question as a fan after a bad season. You have to be all thoughtful and potentially negative and stuff. Forget that. Sure, that's a rational way for Pitino and the U to approach it but we're not those people. So I'm going to pass on this method.
You can also choose to answer the question based on who you want to see. Fans at The Barn haven't had the opportunity to see a non-conference opponent who "moves the needle" in terms of excitement or name recognition in quite a while now. It would be totally fair to say you wanted a Kansas or a Kentucky simply because you want the chance to see those teams come to Minnesota. Would the Gophers be huge underdogs and likely lose those these matchups? Without question. Is that a reason to automatically discount them? Not for everyone.
Another option is to elect a home & home series that has the Gophers playing the road half at a fun location or famous arena. Think Kentucky because of Rupp, Syracuse because of the Carrier Dome, or UNLV because VEGAS IN WINTER DUH. I like to employ a variation of this option known as the "I don't live in Minnesota so dammit I want to see the Gophers come to play someone near me" gambit. Here are my choices based on that method:
1) Xavier: You might have thought I'd say the University of Cincinnati but you'd be wrong. What you might not know is that my wife went to UC and that I'd prefer to limit the amount of angst such a matchup would cause our household. Xavier however? I know that Xavier is to be hated and thus a game between Minnesota and Xavier would result in the two of us in perfect marital harmony at a road game. It's the little things that keep a marriage strong, ya know?
2) Kentucky: Close to me, historic venue, it all fits. The Gophers would be 99.9% sure to lose a game at Rupp, but there is a big upside for me personally. I would be able to troll the living crap out of my NKY friends and neighbors for years if the Cats somehow managed to lose to the Gophers.
3) Butler: I'd get to watch the Gophers play in Hinkle Fieldhouse (made famous by Hoosiers), Indy is close and a fun town to visit, and we'd get to go with Gopher friends who live in the city.
4) Washington: I'd get to visit my brother, Seattle rocks, and it's a winter sports trip that would allow me to golf.
5) BYU or Utah State: Utah in the fall/winter would be gorgeous. Personally I'd probably pick Utah State.
You could get me to agree to Kansas, as I know everyone loves Allen Fieldhouse. But I also doubt I'd end up traveling to Kansas so it just takes the luster off for me.
What team(s) would you want Minnesota to play?