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An opinionated guide to Minnesota Basketball’s Big Ten conference schedule


NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Tournament-Michigan State vs Minnesota Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As mentioned yesterday, the Big Ten announced Minnesota’s conference schedule.

There are two different ways to rate a schedule. First is the criteria used by the Tournament committee. Does the schedule have enough quality wins? What constitutes a bad loss? Second is by pure watchability. Would you have any interest in watching this matchup if you were not a Minnesota fan? Since this is the offseason, I’m ordering these from what I would rather do instead of watching.

I would rather pick weeds: Rutgers

Rutgers will be terrible again because the sun rises in the east. Gardening is a past time that many enjoy, but few watch without some masochistic sense of fatality. Are the removal of weeds a metaphor for humanity’s attempt to classify nature in a foolish attempt to impose a fleeting sense of purpose and meaning? Unclear, but pondering that question is definitely more interesting than watching Rutgers play basketball.

Yes, Rutgers will be bad. Yes, I expect them to finish at the bottom of the conference again. Yes, adding Rutgers to the Big Ten was a stupid idea. Fun hypothesis, Rutgers’s non conference schedule is so bad that it will probably bring down the overall strength of schedule for the conference making it harder for Big Ten bubble teams to get into the Tournament.

I would rather wait for a cable install for three hours: Nebraska

Hey Tim Miles still has a job! That job seems to be murdering interesting basketball in Lincoln, but one cannot be picky in this economy. As of this writing they still do not have a commit for the 2018-19 class, which is only a good sign of stability and talent going forward. A similar good sign is picking a window for a cable install that is from 10-4 because precise estimates are for winners and you’re stuck with Comcast.

Nebraska will start the season firmly in the bad loss category. Minnesota should be heavily favored in both matchups.

I would rather clean the dishes out of the sink: Penn State

No no it’s cool Gerald, keep putting the dishes in the sink instead of the dishwasher. Oh make sure not to rinse them either because greasy food absolutely comes off by itself. That’s just science. If you stare at them long enough and yell like Pat Chambers, I’m sure they will turn into a sparkling product.

Penn State does return most of their minutes from last year, so it’s entirely possible that they will take a jump to the solidly mediocre tier. Then again, it’s entirely possible that Seventh Generation dish soap is actually cat urine. Who’s to say really?

I would rather vacuum behind the couch: Illinois

Behind the couch is a treasure trove of dust bunnies, dirt, and the occasional cash reward. The couch is heavy and needs to be moved, and the vacuum is definitely an off-off brand Dyson with the power of the hamster. This may be an afternoon filled with delight of finding some cash. It may also be a terrible decision. I know how Brad Underwood feels.

I’m actually quite interested in Illinois next year because Underwood is a fantastic coach. I will miss John Groce yelling so hard that all the veins in his forehead popped out at once.

I would rather go on a beer run: Purdue

Are we running low? Wasn’t Gerald supposed to pick up a case on his way back from Target? Gerald you are the worst. Alright what’s everybody thinking? Should I just get a 12 pack? We’re going to go out to the bar afterward right? No no, not the expensive one, the one where they have the televisions. You know what, I’ll just get a sampler pack...Sure Amanda, I’ll get some cider as well.

Purdue loses Caleb Swanigan, so I expect them to take a rather large step back. Still, winning at Mackey is always a challenge and Matt Painter will likely have a solid enough squad to make these good games.

I would rather complain bitterly about the silliness of this game: Ohio State

Presumably the Super in Super Saturday is a snide comment on the silliness of playing a basketball game in Madison Square Garden in January. Why is Minnesota playing in this game instead of “New York’s Team” Rutgers? There will be less than 500 people there including all of the staff of Madison Square Garden. This whole idea is so stupid that it will be the inspiration for a Zach Braff film.

Ohio State will probably be bad this year and then get good in a hurry. Tentatively this would be in the bad loss category, but a neutral site in January would be somewhat of a mitigating factor.

Actually I’m totally fine watching these games: Michigan State, Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana

Michigan State at home is preferable as a one shot to going to the Breslin center. Maryland, Michigan, and Wisconsin all present excellent quality road win opportunities. Wisconsin will continue to decimate basketball as a watchable sport, but that is the price you pay for viewing.

Indiana is going to be fascinating to watch under Archie Miller, who is a brilliant coach with as of yet no known tics. I assume that he sweats like he is wearing a fur coat in the Mohave. If Sean sweats through shirts on the regular then so should Archie.

Iowa is going to be young and (obnoxiously) quite fun to watch. They lost Peter Jok, which should actually make them more efficient across the board. Also Fran is good for at least two toddler temper tantrums a game.

Overall, the Gophers have a reasonably challenging schedule with lots of opportunities to impress the committee. Anything less than a NCAA Tournament bid is a failure given the talent returning. At this time, I believe that their ceiling is a Big Ten Championship, but it is entirely possible that Minnesota will be both a better team and have a worse record than last year.