It turns out Gophers fans didn’t have to wait long for the men’s basketball matchup that was most highly anticipated after the hiring of Richard Pitino.
The young Gophers coach will lead his team against Louisville — the 2013 national champion coached by his father, Rick Pitino — in next year’s Armed Forces Classic on Nov. 14th, the university announced on Wednesday. The game will take place in Puerto Rico, at the United States Coast Guard’s Air Station Borinquen.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to be invited to the Armed Forces Classic,” Richard Pitino said in a release. “It’s a great event that ESPN has put on at the beginning of the season, and we’re proud and excited to be a part of it.”
The Pitinos coached against each other for the first time last year, when Louisville defeated Florida International 79-55. Richard Pitino was an assistant coach for his father for three years (from 2007-09 and 2011-12) and then took the FIU coaching job last season.
When the 31-year-old was hired by the Gophers, he expressed reservations about becoming rivals with his dad so early in his career here. But after the Gophers returned from the Maui Invitational last month, Pitino explained his change of heart:
“I just thought about it and I thought if we want to get to where we’re going, it’s all about elevating this program with everything we do,” he said. “We want to get to the level of Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, and I think one of those things you’ve got to do to do that is you’ve got to be innovative with your scheduling. … I think this is a great way to get our brand out there, to get people talking about Minnesota.”