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Gopher Basketball Nugz - September Edition

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We’re getting closer!

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

September is here. Along with the death of summer, the arrival of football and back-to-school, it also means we’re that much closer to the college basketball season. So, naturally things are heating up! Here’s a quick look at what’s been going on in and around Gopher basketball

Gophers release 2019-2020 Big Ten Schedule

Minnesota finally announced their conference schedule (still waiting on that non-con schedule), which appears to be a pretty even-keeled 20-game slate. No Saturday games, however. Once again the Big Ten schedule opens up with two December games, one home and one away for each team. Minnesota opens up the Big Ten season Monday, December 9th with a trip to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes. Minnesota gets their home game six days later when they host Ohio State on Sunday, December 15th.

Gophers complete Italy trip, going 3-0

Part preseason practice, part bonding experience. The Gophers went overseas to take part in three exhibition games against Italian competition and to get more familiar with each other. They ended up going 3-0, and Marcus offers a few takeaways on what was a successful foreign trip for the team. Spoiler alert, they shot a lot of three pointers, which apparently is going to be more of a focus in the upcoming season. Lord help us.

The Athletic breaks down the 2019-2020 season

Yes, it’s a paywall (sorry!) but The Athletic provided an excellent, in-depth look at the makeup of the team and what to expect in 2019-20. It leans surprisingly optimistic, but the biggest takeaways are: A) the Gophers will be transitioning into much more of a shooting team (..yay?), and will need Marcus Carr to play huge minutes. The ceiling, according to The Athletic: If Carr performs like an All-Big Ten guard, Oturu is an All-Big Ten big and Kalscheur keeps shooting as well as he has and becomes an All-Big Ten defender, the Gophers could sneak into the Big Ten’s top half and earn another NCAA bid.

The floor? If Kalscheur and Oturu stagnate, Carr is just average and the other newcomers don’t produce right away, things could easily go sideways. There’s enough talent and enough experience returning to assure they won’t be a bottom-of-the-league team, but it is possible they finish 10th or worse and find themselves in danger of missing not only the NCAA Tournament but the NIT.

Jarvis Johnson joins team as grad assistant

Johnson, was originally supposed to be a game-changing, four-star guard before experiencing heart troubles, which changed the course of his career. Instead of leading the Gophers on the court, he led from the sidelines for his four years at school. Now graduated, with a degree in youth studies, Marcus reports that he will still will still contribute to program as a part of Richard Pitino’s staff.

DePaul announced as part of Minnesota’s multi-team event

It might not be Kansas, but the Gophers will be hosting at least one more P6 opponent this year when it was announced that DePaul would come to town as part of the tournament the Gophers will host. DePaul is on the up and up, so this won’t be some cupcake game. In fact, the Blue Demons did well enough last year to garner a CBI bid.

For those keeping score at home, that makes six major conference opponents that Pitino and co. have scheduled as part of their non-conference slate, which will surround the two early-season Big Ten games against Iowa and OSU. Looks like November/December will be more intense than usual. For reference, Minnesota is hosting Clemson as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, heading to Butler as part of the Gavitt Games, playing Oklahoma in Sioux Falls, playing Oklahoma State in Tulsa, and heading to Utah in the back half of a home-and-home.