As if going to Maui isn't exciting enough, news follows that Minnesota's opening matchup isn't half bad either -- that is, if you have faith in this 2013-14 Gophers team to keep things interesting.
The 2013 EA Sports Maui Invitational released the Thanksgiving tournament matchups today, announcing that the Gophers will face Syracuse in the first round.
Syracuse might not be quite as good as it would have been, say, if Michael-Carter Williams hadn't made the decision to declare for the draft, but the Orange's expectations haven't fallen very far because of the loss. This super early pre-season top 25 has the CJ Fair-Rakeem Christmas-Baye Keita-led team at No. 8 in the country, so the pairing should be a serious early test for the transitioning Gophers.
Hey, at least the Gophers might not have such urgent cause to fear the 2-3 zone anymore, right?
Minnesota and Syracuse will play Game 2 of the opening day schedule at Lahaina Center at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 25, so start perfecting your This-Is-So-Bad-I'm-Going-To-Have-To-Leave-Work-Early cough now.
In the meantime, one sweet memory to tide over the nervous: Minnesota has played Syracuse just once in program history -- beating the Orange, 82-75 in the 1990 Sweet 16. The other opening matchups are as follows:
California v. Arkansas -- 2 p.m. CT
Baylor v. Chaminade -- 8:30 p.m. CT
Gonzaga v. Dayton -- 11 p.m. CT
The Gophers will host Coastal Carolina on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at Williams Arena in their true opener of the invitational.
And as welcome news to anyone who tried to follow last year's action in the Bahamas on not-quite-mainstream satellite channels, this entire tournament will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, meaning that flooding my inbox with complaints in all caps will not be necessary.