THE BIG TEST
Minnesota is off to a 14-1 start and a No. 8 ranking in the AP poll, but its biggest test of the season lies ahead with a difficult three-game stretch against three ranked opponents. The Gophers are only 13-32 against ranked teams and 40-52 in the Big Ten under coach Tubby Smith, meaning these games will be a real tone-setter for the rest of the season:
Wednesday at No. 12 Illinois: The Illini (14-2) fell flat in the Big Ten opener at Purdue but rebounded with a big victory over Ohio State. They attempt more than 25 three-pointers per game and will test the Gophers with their range.
Saturday at No. 5 Indiana: The Hoosiers (14-1) are among the nation's elite, led by sophomore big man Cody Zeller. They need to bank early victories because their schedule gets even tougher down the stretch.
Jan. 17 vs. No. 2 Michigan: The Wolverines (15-0) have been dominant, though somewhat untested. Their scoring depth and backcourt talent will be a major test for the Gophers.