I know. I know. You might not realize it from the zero articles we’ve published about it but football starts on Thursday. Optimism abounds for the football team from all of us here at The Daily Gopher and hopefully you too because otherwise why be a fan?
Consequently, I’m here to interrupt your regular FEED ME ONLY FOOTBALL CONTENT lifestyle to provide some sweet conference basketball schedule take carbs. With the release of the men’s and women’s schedules for the year, now is a great time to start planning out the months of your life after football ends.
To wit, I have grouped the conference season into three categories according to how much time you should make for them. The answer of course is all of your time. Ignore your familial and work responsibilities and watch under-compensated athletes play a sport for children. Supposing that you do not take that advice, here’s a guide with the date and then opponent.
Games that you should actually watch
12/9 @Iowa, 1/2 @Purdue 1/9 @MSU 1/12 Michigan, 1/26 MSU, 2/5 Wisconsin, 2/16 Iowa 3/1 Wisconsin 3/4 Nebraska
The opener is a murderer’s row of conference games. Minnesota opens on the road against a potentially decent Iowa team. (They will see Iowa again to start the late February stretch. You will want to watch both games because Frantrums have to be experienced visually.) Following this the Gophers play Ohio State (a radio follow, see below), and then Purdue. Purdue should take a step back after the loss of Carsen Edwards, but they will be well-coached and Matt Haarms is still around flailing his arms and wildly gesticulating. Ideally, the Gophers go through this stretch 3-0, though ideally they win every game by 50. Realistically, we should be very happy with a road split and a home win.
Don’t worry, the schedule gets more difficult after a game against Northwestern (strict internet follow). Minnesota takes on the entire hand of Michigan, first on the road against Michigan State and then at home against Michigan. Tune in to Michigan State to watch the likely Big Ten champions and Izzo spittle. Make sure to not miss the beginning of the telecast for Michigan to watch what I can only imagine will be my favorite size disparity coaches’ handshake of the year between Juwan Howard and Richard Pitino. Michigan State comes back to the Barn at the end of January. 2-1 against the state of Michigan would be very good, and set Minnesota up nicely come March. 1-2 is more likely, with the win coming against the Wolverines who should regress hard in year 1 of a new coaching regime.
Unsurprisingly, the games against Wisconsin are must watches. Ethan Happ is gone, but Brad Davison is still here to trip opposing players, punch them in the nuts, and fall down and pretend it’s a charge. Nate Reuvers will likely turn into a surprisingly good stretch 5 for no reason and Wisconsin fans will pretend he is much better than his actual talent level. Contractually, I can never pick Wisconsin to win a game, so let’s say that a conference sweep would be wonderful in the same way that George Bailey really did meet Clarence the Angel. 1-1 is more Donna Reed in that it’s dependable and I’ll be sued for breach of contract if I say it’s what I actually believe.
Finally, the last game of the season is the only time to see the Fighting Hoibergs. Come watch a team soon to be built exclusively through suitcases full of cash represent the most holier than thou fans in the conference and yes I know Michigan is in our conference.
Games that will be ok to follow via radio
12/15 OSU, 1/23 OSU, 1/30 Illinois, 2/19 Indiana, 3/4 Indiana.
Chris Holtmann and the Buckeyes made an early season splash last year before cratering in conference play. Minnesota lost on the road while playing some of the worst basketball I have ever witnessed at the college level and I sat through the entirety of the Jim Molinari experience. I think the Buckeyes will be better this season, but I do not recommend watching a bruising boring game. Listening is acceptable. Minnesota wants a series split.
Unlike Ohio State, I have no idea about whether Indiana will be any good this year. I know that Archie Miller will sweat through many shirts, and I refuse to believe that Sean is the only Miller who is bad at cheating. As for the on-court product, KenPom irrationally loved them last year and I do not expect that to change. Minnesota needs to hold serve at home, and a win at Assembly Hall would be a nice pickup the second to last game of the conference season.
Illinois is going to be better than everyone expects. Yes that should be read as a backhanded insult. They are built on grinding tough defense, which is why this is automatically a radio game.
Games that should only be gamecast
1/5 Northwestern, 1/15 PSU, 1/19 @Rutgers, 2/8 @PSU 2/23 @Northwestern 2/26 Maryland
Maryland is here because I hold a grudge for expanding the Big Ten unnecessarily, a feeling that in basketball seems mutually shared by Maryland fans. This will actually be a decent game and you should watch it. Maryland often refuses to play defense, so expect lots of points scored on both sides.
Northwestern will be bad. Penn State will be bad, but Lamar Stevens will be awesome and they will win games this year entirely because Lamar Stevens will be awesome.
I am not sure why, but Minnesota travels for a one day vacation to New Jersey in January. Hopefully no one gets injured doing whatever activity the basketball team has scheduled.