The Big Ten has released the conference basketball schedule this afternoon and soon after the Gophers released their entire 2021-22 schedule. Let’s break it down.
- 11/1 - Concordia-St. Paul (exhibition)
- 11/9 - Kansas City
- 11/12 - Western Kentucky (Asheville Championship tournament)
- 11/14 - South Carolina or Princeton (Asheville Championship)
- 11/19 - Fort Wayne
- 11/24 - Jacksonville
- 11/30 - @Pittsburgh (B1G/ACC Challenge)
- 12/5 - @Mississippi State
(Big Ten games inserted here)
- 12/14 - Texas A&M Corpus Christi
- 12/22 - Green Bay
- 12/29 - Alcorn State
What really stands out about this schedule is that every game against a Power 5 conference opponent is on the road. Leaving the most desirable non-conference home opponent as Green Bay or Kansas City.
The flip side is that next year, Mississippi State will play at the Barn and potentially an ACC opponent will be back here as well. But this year, is kind of ugly for season ticket holders.
Projecting wins here? Impossible when we know so little about what to expect from this year’s Gopher squad. There should be 6 non-conference wins that we can be confident in. Both games in the Asheville Championship are up in the air and at this point I would assume Mississippi State and Pitt are both losses on the road. My guess (and this is a wild guess) is that they 6-4 or 7-3 in these 10 games.
The Big Ten
We will begin to preview the squad in the coming weeks but as you know, this roster has had 100% turnover and is projected to struggle throughout the 2021-22 season. In the unbalanced B1G schedule, here are the 6 single-game opponents.
AWAY ONLY - Nebraska, Maryland, Michigan
HOME ONLY - Purdue, Rutgers, Illinois
The good news is that Purdue, Michigan, Illinois and Maryland should be right around the top 4 in the league. The bad news is that we don’t get to host Nebraska.
Here is the 20-game Big Ten schedule, broken up into logical groupings as I saw fit.
The first 5 games
- 12/8 - Michigan State
- 12/11 - @Michigan
- 1/2 - Illinois
- 1/9 - @ Indiana
- 1/12 - @ Michigan State
These are all really tough games to start the conference season. In any season, the Gophers would be in danger of starting 0-5. This year, with 0% of everything returning, 0-5 is almost a lock.
The next 3 weeks
- 1/16 - Iowa
- 1/19 - @ Penn State
- 1/2 - Rutgers
- 1/27 - Ohio State
- 1/30 - @ Wisconsin
- 2/2 - Purdue
- 2/6 - @ Iowa
The Gophers finish out the second half of January and the first week of February with 7 games that maybe are not as challenging as the first 5. Who knows what Iowa looks like this year without Garza and perhaps Penn State is winable, even if it’s on the road.
The sweet spot
- 2/9 - @ Nebraska
- 2/12 - Penn State
- 2/15 - @ Ohio State
- 2/19 - Northwestern
Can the Gophers go 3-1 in this 11-day period? As we sit in September, there is no doubt that Minnesota is projected to be one of the bottom 4 teams in the league. I think that Nebraska, Penn State and Northwestern are also projected in that range. Can we get a little momentum with some wins in this busy stretch?
The big finish
- 2/23 - Wisconsin
- 2/27 - Indiana
- 3/2 - @ Maryland
- 3/6 - @ Northwestern
A couple of difficult home games and then 2 road games to complete the regular season.
Ultimately this would typically be a favorable Big Ten schedule for Minnesota. Again, knowing so little about what we can expect from this Gopher team, it is very hard to project wins from these 20 games. I’m not optimistic that we will see more than 3 or 4 Big Ten wins. Of course, maybe this Gopher team surprises us because they play so well together and work their asses off on both ends of the floor. It is possible that they surprise us all. This is why they play the games. And now we know the games that will be played.