There is great anticipation for the 2017-18 Gopher Basketball team. A year ago the expectations were near rock-bottom with most predictions placing them in the bottom 2 or 3 teams in the Big Ten. What a difference a year makes. This year the Gophers enter the season as not only a consensus top 4 team in the Big Ten but both the AP and USA Today polls rank them as #15 in the pre-season polls.
Some notable historical facts when it comes to the Gophers being ranked in the pre-season polls.
- This is the first time they have been ranked in the pre-season since the 2009-10 season when they were ranked #25.
- This is the highest they have been ranked since the 1993-94 season when they were #10.
- The Gophers are the 2nd highest Big Ten team. Michigan State is the conference favorite and ranked 2nd overall and Northwestern (what??) is just behind the Gophers are 19th.
15th is quite high and a nod of respect to the program from the media and coaches. But the question really is, are the Gophers truly a top-15 team in the country and the 2nd best team in the Big Ten?
Coach Pitino this summer in his blog was talking about expectations for the upcoming season and how his team will respond. Now they have the #15 ranking on their backs and the expectations that come with it.
What a difference a year makes. This summer had a totally different feel than last year for so many obvious reasons. There certainly is a much better perception of our program going into this season. Getting our guys in the right mindset will no doubt be the biggest obstacle for our coaching staff. Handling success can often times be harder than dealing with defeat. Two years ago we handled failure the right way. How we handle success is the next great challenge.
We’ll discuss more of this in the coming days. The official exhibition begins on Thursday when the Gophers host Concordia-St. Paul at The Barn.
This could be a really fun season, time to buckle up.