On Tuesday the University of Minnesota announced the 2017 non-conference portion of the Gopher Basketball schedule. Then on Wednesday afternoon the Big Ten portion of the 2017-18 schedule was announced. You can see the full schedule in the tweets below:
It's here! Check out the #Gophers non-conference schedule this season. ⬇️https://t.co/IYqSwThguo pic.twitter.com/JSTdUVDgE4— Minnesota MBB (@GopherMBB) August 15, 2017
The #Gophers schedule has been announced, including the 18-game @B1GMBBall slate!https://t.co/s7aSZghZ2E pic.twitter.com/FyvA6ywiG5— Minnesota MBB (@GopherMBB) August 16, 2017
We will have a deeper analysis of the Gophers schedule on Thursday but here are a few first thoughts and things to know:
Nine Home Non-Conference Games
The Gophers have nine home non-conference games this season not including the exhibition against DII Concordia St Paul. The Big Ten/ACC Challenge game against Miami is the highest profile home game, but don’t overlook the non-conference closer against Harvard. Otherwise the other seven games should pretty much be snoozers.
Four Road/Neutral Non-Conference Games
We already knew about these four games as they include at Providence in the Gavitt Games, against UMass Minutemen and Alabama in the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn, and at Arkansasin the return game of a home and home series.
Two Early Big Ten Games
All Big Ten teams will play two early December conference games this season. The coaches discussed and voted on it earlier this spring. Minnesota gets about an easy a Big Ten start as you could ask for as Rutgers comes to the Barn on Sunday December 3rd, and the Gophers go to Lincoln to play Nebraska on Tuesday December 5th. The Big Ten schedule then does not pick back up until 2018.
The Conference Schedule Ends Early
Most years the Big Ten will play into early March with the Big Ten Tournament in the traditional last week before the NCAA Tournament. This year with the Big Ten Tournament taking place at Madison Square Garden, it had to be held a week early since it was already booked for the Big East Tournament on the traditional Championship Week. Thus the regular season Big Ten finale will be February 25th when the Gophers head to Purdue.
An Easy Start, But a Tough Finish
Minnesota gets a relatively easy start to the Big Ten schedule with the previously discussed Rutgers and Nebraska games in December. In January Minnesota begins with two home games against Illinois and Indiana before going to Northwestern and hosting Purdue.
To end the season Minnesota finishes at Indiana, home for Michigan State at Wisconsin, home for Iowa and at Purdue. Minnesota will need to go minimum 3-2 down that stretch to win the Big Ten.
The Schedule is Condensed for TV
Along with the regular season being a week shorter, its now spread across every day of the week thanks to TV. With Fox, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 being added to the TV rights agreement, the Big Ten will now play games every day of the week. CBS has Sunday afternoon games, ESPN/2/U will air games Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, BTN will have its Wednesday night doubleheaders along with other scattered games, and Fox, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 will air games on Monday and Friday.
All this TV and the condensed schedule means a lot of games in a short time frame. The Gophers will play two games in three days three times this season in Big Ten play. All three times the Gophers will play at home the first game and travel to play the second game.