Tonight's game vs. University of Maryland - Baltimore County tips at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on BTN-plus (online) and 1500-a.m.


With tonight bringing the third less-than-competitive opponent to Williams Arena (Western Kentucky was supposed to be respectable, but the Hilltoppers didn't play like it), it's for Minnesota to be lulled to sleep. But the Gophers have a big road trip ahead -- St. John's in the NIT Season Tip-off in New York, a potential matchup with No. 13 Gonzaga in round 2 and then their first true road game, at Wake Forest a few days later.

UMBC should bring about the same caliber of a team as Thursday's DII matchup vs. Franklin Pierce -- gives Minnesota a 98 percent chance of a win. And the Gophers should take full advantage in order to get any worth at all from the final tuneup.

Four things to watch for tonight:

*Two 100s in a row: Why not? This UMBC team is one of the worst Division I teams in the nation, ranked at 330 by and was held to just 38 points by Loyola on Wednesday. Will the Gophers have energy to play a fourth consecutive game with 76 possessions or more (which they hadn't done previously since 2003)? We'll find out early on.

*More minutes for the raw frontcourt reserves: These matchups aren't worth much. Even the experiences young newcomers get barely translate to the Big Ten game. But it's something. A chance for coach Richard Pitino to throw freshmen Josh Martin, Bakary Konate and Charles Buggs in for a live practice. The pair needs as much of that as possible because both -- especially Martin -- will likely be needed down the road.

*Keep the defensive pressure: The Gophers have held their opponent to 32.3 percent shooting or worse for the last two games. They've grabbed at least 15 steals each time. Considering UMBC's offense is ranked 342nd nationally, those numbers should stay pretty constant.

*Get it over with. Come out strong, run, run, run, post a win over another cupcake and let us all go home. It's been a long week and there's an even longer one coming up.

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